Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beginning Structural Masonry

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Finishing up both the structural arches of the back porch.


Here I have removed the form from under the arch after having just finished laying the brick. My theory for doing this prior to the complete setting up of the mortar is this: There are no doubt minor inconsistencies in the application of the mortar to the brick during the arch building process. By removing the form while the mortar is still malleable, the arch is allowed to "squat" (an imperceivable amount) and in so doing eliminate inherent weaknesses that would be preserved in the arches structure if the mortar was allowed to set up entirely before the form was removed.


Wooden form in place for masonry arch construction. While carpentry requires nothing necessarily of masonry, a good mason must be a capable if not talented carpenter. Once the arch is laid the form is removed and held in place by compression as long as the buttressing walls which provide counter thrust for the compression are each at least 1/2 the length of the arche's span. Similarly, buttressing walls can be narrower than 1/2 the arches span if the massing above the apex of the arch is at least 1/2 the arches span.

Reverse Corbeling : The variation in relief of the corbeling reveals a slight radius to the corbeled profile; as opposed to the typical strait line profile of corbels distanced at a constant dimension. Sand is thrown on the ledges of the corbeling to prevent falling mortar from adhering to the surfaces. The mortar joints are not treated cosmetically; this is akin to stone masonry.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nantahala Wilderness, North Carolina

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Native Brown Trout caught from a stream in North Carolina's Nantahala Wilderness. The photo was taken by Biologist Ben Davis who was kind enough to guide an impromptu fishing trip while visiting mutual friends with my family in Robinsville. Ben was glad to see this healthy specimen come from the remote creek we were fishing and I was happy to release it.

Note the pattern of light and color in the water just above the trout's head and over to my right hand. Compare this to the pattern along the trout's back.

This is a fine example of how design and beauty are ultimately rooted in survival and sustainability. Architecturally speaking, it's no coincidence that beautiful buildings are generally more sound and provide shelter longer than buildings we have no affection for. When we acknowledge the structure of water and the successful design of a fish we are better positioned to adopt and imitate foundational elements of sensible design.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Daulton House Foundation

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Poured front porch slab. This surface, along with that of of the back porch, will be etched and stained as the project nears completion.

Back porch slab preparations : Form created by 12" wide masonry border, #4 rebar on 12" grid and vapor barrier over infill. Rear chimney base along porch perimeter.

Masonry veneer laid up to brick ledge from main footing of poured foundation walls. Header brick attaching veneer to foundation creating surface for reverse corbelling to begin after framing. Poured crawl space slab in back ground.

Completed house foundation : 3' poured concrete walls, 10" thick, 4" brick ledge 6" below top of wall. Front chimney base along left perimeter and load bearing piers inside foundation.

Pouring foundation walls for crawl space. Logistical challenges required the use of a line pump.


Chimney base footing with double rebar grid and helical piers. At the rear of the house, a dozen helical piers were drilled while preparing footings for concrete pour. During excavation, debris from a past home place was uncovered; though neighbors have conveyed that the site has been a vacant green space for some 30 years. After removing the debris and replacing with compactable fill dirt, helical piers were implemented to insure foundation stability. I can't speak highly enough about "Can't Sink," the helical pier installation company hired to solve this problem.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Decorative Mantel and Hearth

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Atlanta's "Architectural Accents" is an important resource for design details like the decorative mantel and and fireplace frontal pictured here. Though the Daultons have entrusted the designing and building of their home to me, they are still quite involved with many of the design decisions such as this. The collaborative effort is alive and well here on a daily basis. Jack, who is recently retired, is present on the work site almost everyday where he participates regularly in the process.