Friday, April 2, 2010

Cylinders and arches from triangular block

So far we’ve looked at triangular interlocking masonry units which can be used to assemble into a sphere or part of a sphere, such as a dome.
This masonry system also uses interlocking triangular masonry units to build cylinders, parts of cylinders and straight walls. Cylinder sections can be used to build arches for roofs, serpentine arrangements, straight walls and any combination of these elements.

There are two types of triangular blocks needed to assemble into a cylinder. One of them is referred to as a “flat” block, because the top of the block gets ‘cut off’ or truncated, creating a flat top. The second type of block is referred to as a ‘par’ block, because the abutting edges are parallelograms. Both of these cylinder blocks lend themselves readily to the independent diamond-shaped key configuration, or the ‘simp’ (single inverse mirror plane) or ‘dimp’ (double inverse mirror plane) which I described earlier in this blog.

Here are some illustrations of the ‘flat’ block, shown with a ‘simp’ configuration.

Here are some illustrations of the ‘par’ block, also shown with a ‘simp’ configuration.

Shown below are two views of a cylinder section made using the 'flat' and 'par' blocks.  One beneficial aspect of this design is that there are 'ribs' or corrugated rings going around the cylinder.  This makes the structure much stronger, and increase flexural rigidity, much like the ribs on a tin can.

Taken in its entirety, the cylinder, arch, straight wall, sphere and dome arrangements provide extensive design flexibility for this masonry system. All the benefits of this system apply to all these embodiments. These blocks can be mass-produced, they interlock, they bear loads under compression, the abutting faces are comprised of conjugate shearing, they can be woven together using tensile elements; this is a robust and high strength system which can be produced at a very low cost.  There are many ways to configure this system, a few possibilities are shown below:

Here are some illustrations showing different types of masonry arches. Each of these configurations is made from sections of cylinders. Triangular cylinder blocks can be used to build each of these types of arches. This system has extensive design flexibility and can be used to create some beautiful architecture.

An interesting aspect of human architecture is the convention of square walls and square corners in buildings. This is almost a universal convention, found in different cultures across the globe. People are somehow comforted and ‘used’ to square walls and square corners. Is it possible to build arched roofs from triangular blocks that will fit on top of square or rectangular structures? We’ll take a look at this very interesting design problem next time.

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