Building Masonry Vaults in Cuba

In 1959, an armed revolt led by Fidel Castro ousted Cuba’s military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. As part of a broader plan to improve the quality of life for millions of Cubans, Castro’s new government sought to develop a program to mass-produce new housing, schools and factories.

In the years that followed, however, this dream clashed with difficult realities. Sanctions and supply chain disruptions had created a shortage of conventional building materials.

Architects realized they needed to do more with less and invent new construction methods using local materials.

Three types of vaults — clockwise, from top left: conventional stone, tiled dome and tiled vault. Luis Moya Blanco, CC BY-ND

Tile vaulting is a technique that flourished in the eastern Mediterranean after the 10th century.

It involves constructing arched ceilings made of multiple layers of lightweight terra cotta tiles. To build the first layer, the builders use fast-setting mortar to glue the tiles together with barely any temporary support. Afterward, the builder adds more layers with normal cement or lime mortar. This technique doesn’t require expensive machinery or use of a lot of timber for formwork. But speed and craftsmanship are paramount.…

From Maui Surfer

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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