The Salt Building Block

augustus 10, 2015

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Starting point for this exploration in salt is the material itself. This is tested at facilities at the TU Delft at the faculty of Civil Engineering. After several tests it turns out that the material has around the same strength as other common vernacular building materials such as ice, rammed earth and simple masonry structures. Similar to the properties of these materials, the salt material deals well with compressive forces and not so much with tensile forces. This means a typical salt structure would be for example an arch, a dome or a shell structure.

A fantastic property of the salt is its translucency when it’s cast or 3D printed in thin panels. When shining a light on it silhouettes behind the material become visible, leading to very interesting architectural possibilities.

The colour of the material is obviously very white, a feature very handy in desert environments as it will reflect the sunlight as much as possible.

Of course the weak point of salt is the fact that it dissolves in water. This is currently being handled by applying a coating to the material. Currently research is being done to bio based coatings that damage the environment as little as possible. Other strategies for waterproofing the material could be building a transparent tent structure over it or covering it with things like reed or sand.

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