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Abeysekera, V (1997) A strategy for managing brickwork in Sri Lanka, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: brickwork; Sri Lanka
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  • Abstract:
    Building with burnt clay bricks is part of Sri Lanka's engineering culture. To date, bricks produced by the island's cottage industry have remained the principal building element in the construction of walls. These walls, plastered on both sides, are used mainly as infills or partitions in reinforced concrete buildings except for walls in single storey and two storey buildings carrying light loads. Neither bricks nor walls in Sri Lanka confirm with standard sizes and vary widely. Brickwork joints too vary, with significant departures from the norms of other organised construction industries. These variations result in many problems in the industry in what can be described as a disordered or chaotic environment. With material costs far in excess of labour, the status-quo continues without regard to impact on time and costs. The objective of this research is to develop strategies for coping with this 'chaos' and focuses on single brick thick walls. This disorderly environment is profiled with indicators of reasons for departure. Procedures and practices adopted for coping with it are presented as case studies. Methods for computing mortar volumes are developed and validated. The impact of the brick size, joint size, the degree to which the joints are filled, wall thickness, and mortar mix is assessed with respect to mortar consumption, brickwork output, and costs. The study advocates a paradigm shift from the conventional focus of the 'brick' and the 'joint' to the 'wall' and its 'width'. A wall of a given width may be constructed not necessarily with a few discrete sizes of bricks and a standard joint size, but with a variety of brick and joint sizes. This research concludes that the generally perceived 'single best solution' of standardisation is not necessarily the only approach for coping with the existing and emerging future. There are better approaches. It recommends the 'non-standardisation' route through chaos using its inherent flexibility to advantage in a complex environment. This route is depicted in the form of a map with features of 'universality' of costs, the 'chapparu flexibility' in the wall width, 'geometry of order' in the bed joint, and a 'general specification' for output. The end result is an 'orderly chaos'.