Clay ceilings

Burnt clay comes in as a handy material for constructing timberless roofs in rural housing projects in Wardha, Maharashtra

Published: Tuesday 15 October 1996

Guna pipes laid out to dry on< rural housing is the priority area of the Centre of Science for Villages ( csv ), Wardha, Maharashtra. The latest thrust of research here is on various cost reducing technologies to suit the housing needs of the poor villagers of the district.

Their new style of housing involves building houses which are devoid of timber or steel in their roofs. These dwellings are not only cost-effective but can also withstand floods, rain, hailstorm and high velocity wind. Further, they can be occupied within three days at a cost less than Rs 200 per square metre, according to csv researchers ( Kurukshetra , Vol 44 , Nos 8 & 9).

The most ingenious feature of the csv model is the timberless roof or the ' Guna ' roof -- ' Guna ' in Telugu means a burnt clay tapering pipe. Splitting this pipe into two results in semi-circular pan-like tiles. These ' Guna s' can be socketed into one another, forming an arch over a suitably curved shuttering. A series of such arches can make a barrel-shaped vault which is capable of withstanding considerable loads. After the joints are filled and topped with plaster, it becomes rigid and waterproof. The entire roof does not incorporate any high tensile material like steel or timber.

Air in the Guna pipes keeps heat out, thus insulating the interiors of the constructions from the scorching heat of the tropics. Being light in weight, 120 kg / meter square, it is safe for earthquake prone areas. Though the roof is without any heavy structure, it can carry an imposed load of 1,000 kg / sq m. These constructions which have a service life of over 50 years do not need regular maintenance.

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