How do you build an Earthquake-proof building?

Since earthquakes are becoming commonplace, it is imperative that all building projects be earthquake proof basis the seismic zone they are in. Here are some pointers to ensure your structure can withstand a moderate earthquake.

1) The building should be able to sustain as much side-ways motion as possible, in order to minimize damage to the structure and give the occupants time to get out safely.

unnamed
Effect of isolating the base of a building subject to a sideways ground movement.

 

The most dangerous building construction, from an earthquake point of view, is non-reinforced brick or concrete block.  Generally, this type of construction has walls that are made of bricks stacked on top of each other and held together with mortar.  The roof is laid across the top.  The weight of the roof is carried straight down through the wall to the foundation.  When this type of construction is subject to a lateral force from an earthquake the walls tip over or crumble and the roof falls in like a house of cards.

 

2) Use light weight civil engineering materials as far as possible, especially for walls and roofs.

3) Cement mortar used should be in the ratio of 1:6 parts of sand.

4) The use of seismic bands: a seismic band consists of a concrete flat runner at the plinth level of the building and the lintel level of all doors and windows.

5) Use vertical reinforcement in brick walls. this reinforcement should start from the foundation and run through all the seismic bands.

FOR LARGER BUILDINGS:

1) Use of dampers,rollers, tire mats or other foundation cushion plates to allow for sliding.

Tuned mass dampers are large masses built on top of buildings that can sway at the top of the building in opposition to the building sway. These devices can reduce the sway of a building up to 30 to 40 percent.

2) Expansion joints for larger buildings especially where 2 different types of foundations are being used.

3) isolated footings instead of fixed base foundations

 

tunned mass damper
730 ton motion damper inside the Taipei 101 skyscraper

 

As the buildings get bigger and taller other techniques are employed such as “base isolation.” During the past 30 years, engineers have constructed skyscrapers that float on systems of ball bearings, springs and padded cylinders. Acting like shock absorbers in a car, these systems allow the building to be decoupled from the shaking of the ground.

Remember, we cannot avoid earthquakes but we should prepare for them.

 

 

From Toilet Seats to Technology Thrones

Some of us sit on elevated thrones, while others squat above holes. Some of us cleanse ourselves with dry paper, while others employ a nearby pitcher of water. But then, there are some, who are way ahead, the Japanese, to be precise, who spend those crucial minutes enjoying the best customised experience, on seats powered with different kind of spray guns, music, and sound effects.
Take a look at these images. Who’d believe these are regular toilet seats in Japan. We’d rather call them as ‘The Real Game of Thrones’






Carbon Fibre Structure Built by Robots

Carbon, as we all know is one of the strongest materials in the world, much because of its covalent bonding between atoms. This chemical property makes it the strongest and the lightest material known to man kind (yeah diamonds are carbon compounds too). 
 
Take a look at this structure built by university of Stuttgart! Isn’t it amazing? Who’d believe that it was built by robots, but it was. Coming to the structure, you’d find that the more complexly woven the carbon fibers are, the stronger the structure will be The carbon fiber we are referring to here, consists of very thin filaments of carbon bound together with plastic polymer resin by heat, pressure or in a vacuum. The resulting composite material is both strong and lightweight.
 
Take a look at some fancy designs inspired by insects, here: http://ow.ly/LZMqB

 

LiTracon a Concrete Material that Lets Light Through

litracon1

Concrete by its nature is an opaque and sturdy material rarely used as a design element. But there is a re-emergence of exposed concrete in recent years and innovations in the types of concrete available to designers.

LiTracon is a revolutionary and ultra cool product which serves your insulation needs, without cramping the space and giving the space a unique visual appeal.

Take a look at their website to know more: http://ow.ly/LWCiD

We hope to see this in India soon, let us know what you think about this product in our comments section.

Take a look at http://ow.ly/LWBTD  for more awesome products.

Bathrooms: The Relaxation Zones for ‘Me’ Time.

delectable-classic-bathrooms

Bathrooms have long ceased to serve a mere utilitarian purpose. They are one of the most important aspects of the house in terms of design and identity.

One of the most important aspects of designing a bathroom is, segregating the wet and dry areas well. If you have a long, rectangular bathroom, you should follow the linear pattern wherein the sink area is right at the entrance, the water closet next, and the bath area in the end. It’s generally a good idea to stick to the classics, while designing a bathroom.
Here are some of the basics to keep in mind while designing your bathroom:

Bathroom Accessories

Accessories

Like the showers, it is best to use steel for basic accessories like towel rods and toilet roll holders.

Fancy mirrors, vanity area and the lighting could set the tone. If space is not an issue, put in his-and-hers double vanity, which is the combination of the basin, cabinets and mirror. This increases the luxury quotient by many notches. While upping the style quotient, it is imperative to use water-proof material for cabinets below the basin.

You could go for a dual tone on the floor and the wall tile, to add class, and introduce recessed lighting behind the mirror.

While working on the style quotient, you should not compromise on the storage below the basin. You could also add shelves beside the mirror, in a stylish manner, to add to the look and utility.

Bathroom Tones and Surfaces

Tones & Surfaces

The colour scheme should always be based on whether you want  a luxurious look or a cool relaxing look . White, beige and black-and-white are classics. You could also opt for shades of blue, green or yellow.  Avoid dark tones in bathrooms, as they aren’t conducive to relaxation.

While setting the tone, ensure you use a rough finish tile for the flooring, to avoid slipping when there is water.

For the wall, you could opt for large glossy tiles in marble or granite and use decorative tiles to create a highlight section. Gold chip tiles are great if you want an ornate look. You could also opt for a beige and chocolate dual tone bathroom to add to the luxurious feel.

Bathroom Fitting

Fittings

To complement your tiles and tones you could choose glass/ceramic/ stone basins. For showers and faucets, the sleek steel look is the best. For the toilet tanks and showers and taps, we suggest you choose fittings that come with water-save options.

Wall-mounted shower panels look great, but if you plan to install rain showers or pressure jets, ensure you install a pressure pump and and the plumbing is able to withstand the pressure

A Jacuzzi is great if you have a large bathroom, however, it is vital to ensure that the area between the tub and the floor is waterproofed well, and there are no leakages. Also the water draining path is an important factor to look at while planning the drainage of a jacuzzi and a shower panel.

While a bathroom offers various design opportunities, it is also one of the most challenging parts to build. The trick to get it right is to ensure that the water and ventilation is managed well.

When you are designing your bathroom leave provisions in the plumbing for future upgrades. Another important point to ensure is, that your water heaters match the capacity of your shower fixtures. So, don’t buy products without seeing them in person.

Ensure that the ‘U’ bend trap is placed properly underneath every sink or toilet. Here’s what a U-Bend trap actually is. Underneath every sink or bath there is a U-bend trap, which always retains a certain amount of water, preventing unpleasant sewer smells drifting back up the pipe – the water acts as an impenetrable barrier for such smells. The same principle is used for the toilet –each time it is flushed, everything is forced round the bend in the bottom of the toilet, leaving enough clean water to act as a barrier that prevents smells.

Most modern style washrooms have a concealed cistern these days. Here are the advantages and dis-advantages of the same:

– Style

– Space

– Hygene

Disadvantages:

– Cost

– Maintenance is perceived to be a problem but can be overcome with a well designed access panel or concealing it within a bathroom vanity… well designed concealed cisterns can be hassle free In maintenance.

With these pointers, we really hope your bathroom planning is eased.

You could refer to the links below for more inputs:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/03/bathroom-remodeling-guide-dos-and-don-ts/index.htm

http://www.victoriaplumb.com/lovebathrooms/bathroom-diy/plumbing/

http://www.build.com.au/concealed-cisterns

Do let us know if you face any issues with the same, in the comments below, so that we can help you.

Things to keep in mind while planning a Modular Kitchen in India

traditional-kitchen
The Kitchen is the most used (read: abused) part of the house. Many women and families end up spending maximum time in the Kitchen. Some use the space as a family gathering space too, while cooking elaborate meals. Others prefer quick meals or hire professionals. Hence each person has distinct needs which need to be catered to, while designing a kitchen.
Before you begin planning a new kitchen, here are somethings you should be clear about:
1) Family Setup: If you live in a joint family with elderly people and children, then you should plan your storage at lower levels.
2) Will you hire professional help who will use the kitchen mostly? then you may want to store things used most by the help separately.
3) Stocking patterns: Do you stock for a week or for a month?
4) The budget: which is obvious
Once you have these steps sorted, think about the work flow. Usually, a kitchen involves cooking, stocking, washing, and an area to keep prepared food. Usually these areas should not be less than 3 ft apart, to avoid a crampy look. But much depends on the space you have.
Here are some layout designs you could consider: 
Straight Line Kitchen
Straight Line Kitchen

The Straight Line – this is most suited for small narrow spaces. In this layout, all the work area is set against a single wall. The production chain is linear. It is cost-effective and looks sleek. However, this kind of layout does not provide for adequate work and storage space.

Galley Kitchen
Galley Kitchen

The Galley – in this kitchen plan is flanked by work platforms on either side. Many consider this to be an ideal layout in terms of efficiency. Less movement per task. The only major drawback is that if the space is too narrow, the space would get easily crowded.

U Shaped Kitchen
U Shaped Kitchen

The U-shaped Kitchen – this type of design is ideal for a large space. It has platforms running along three walls, forming a U. this design provides for a lot of work and storage space. However if the space between the platforms is too wide, the travel distance during a normal cooking process will be too long and could be tiring.

L Shaped Kitchen
L Shaped Kitchen

The L-shaped Kitchen – this is the contemporary kitchen design in India. The platform runs along two perpendicular walls. The principle of the work triangle can best be demonstrated in the kitchen.

Peninsular Kitchen
Peninsular Kitchen

The Peninsular kitchen – again applicable to a large space, This layout has an independent counter which can be used for breakfast or snacky meals. This layout works best in open kitchens.

Island Kitchen
Island Kitchen

The Island Kitchen – the distinct feature of this kitchen layout is that there is a counter in the middle of the room. This type of plan requires a huge amount of space, but it works well for families that spend a lot of time in the Kitchen. Also, this layout works well in planning commercial kitchens.

Standard Measurements

Here are some standard measurements you could follow as thumb rules.

•    Height of counter-top from floor to work surface – 36″
•    Width of platform – 24″
•    Thickness of stone used for platform – 1 ½ ”
•    Thickness of platform skirting – 1″- 4″
•    Height of base unit – 34 ½ ”
•    Width of base unit – 24″
•    Distance between platform and overhead wall unit – 24″
•    Height of wall unit from counter – 18″
•    Width of wall unit – 9″-18″
•    Thickness of shelves – 3/4″
•    Maximum total height from the floor to overhead cabinets – 78″

Fire and Ventilation

Since Kitchens are synonamous with smoke and fumes, one should provide for efficient ventilation and the best way of doing this is with large windows. Where this is not possible, exhaust fans and chimneys are practical alternatives.The exhaust should be placed close to the hob and should have a separate plug point.

If you are planning on installing a chimney, the ducting has to be done in the initial stages of renovation itself. It should be placed directly over the hob at a minimum distance of 24″. Ideally, it should be fitted on an exterior wall.

Vastu Tips:

Here are some Vastu tips you must consider:

  • The Kitchen should be in the South-East corner of the house as the Element Fire governs in that direction. However, the North-West could be taken as an alternative.
  • Ideally, the hob should be placed in the South-East in such a way that while cooking the person faces the East.
  • Water should be in the opposite direction of the cooking gas.
  • Avoid placing the dining table in the center of the kitchen, and place it  in the North-west direction, if possible.
  • Electric equipment like microwave, oven or refrigerator should be placed in South-west.
  • The slope of the water flow should be from Southwest towards Northeast.
  • The exhaust fan should be installed either in the Northwest corner or the South wall.
Happy Kitchen Planning and cooking.

How to calculate AC tonnage for your Home or Office

air-conditioner-room

Summers setting in, and it’s time to bring out those AC’s, and a lot of us will be out looking for new AC’s this season.. Shopping for the right kind of air conditioner can be quite confusing, and a lot of times we can be misled into buying a larger unit than required or worse than that, buying something which is too small for our room!
It is important to have some idea about how to calculate the AC capacity that you require for your room… which depends not only on the size of the room but also on the size of the windows, which direction they face, number of people who occupy it, the insulation of the room (is it on the top floor or in the basement) even the wattage of equipment in the room influences the required AC capacity (more relevant for offices).

The most basic thumb rule to get started is to calculate the volume of your room in feet and divide it by 1000, this will give you the required capacity in TR (tons). So a 10 foot by 10 foot room which is 10 feet high will need a one ton AC (10’x10’x10’ = 1000 Cu.ft. / 1000 = 1 ton).

But to add some precision to this calculation do the following:

Measure the dimensions of your room.
Identify the orientation of your windows and measure their sizes (don’t add up the window sizes as a north facing window impacts the calculation different from a south facing window)

Follow the links below and use the AC tonnage calculator provided by companies like Bluestar and LG to get a the required tonnage for your room (more calculators can be found online)

https://www.bluestarindia.com/ac-tonnage-calculator/toncalculator.asp

http://www.lg.com/in/support/ac-tonnage-calculator

After this let’s understand the units. One ton (TR) of refrigeration refers to the heat extraction capacity of the unit, it’s an American unit and equates to the amount of energy required to melt one short ton of ice (about 907 KG or 2000 pounds). This is equivalent to 12000 BTU/h (British thermal unit), beware of products that claim to be a one ton unit but have a cooling capacity of less than 12000 BTU. Finally we need to check the power consumed by the unit in watts and the star rating which is based on the EER (energy efficiency ratio). If we convert the cooling capacity to watts (1 ton = 12000 BTU = 3517 watts) and then divide it by the power consumed to achieve this we get the EER, the higher the better (this shouldn’t ever be below 2.3 and should be around 3.5 for a 5-star rating).

So to summarize:
AT HOME:
Calculate the cooling capacity (in TR) based on your room requirements
AT THE STORE:
Check the cooling capacity (in TONS as well as BTU then convert it to watts)
Check the power consumed.
Check the BEE rating. (verify by dividing cooling capacity by Power consumed)

Home Hacks that you would love

Small-bedroom-Storage3

    Many a times, you don’t get the opportunity nor do you have the budget to give your house a complete makeover. But here are some things you could look into, for a better utilization of space.

flooring

1) Creating zones in your living room

    Many houses have large dining cum drawing areas, and lesser personal space. With the result, the TV has to be placed in the drawing room (read: living room) itself. Thus making it a ‘Den’, like the Americans call it. However, if you have some extra space, and don’t really want to partition the areas, you could use different flooring as a demarcation. Your living space could have a wooden laminate, and the formal area could have an off-white tile/ marble flooring or could be carpeted.
You could also create a small step to separate the areas.
Another way of creating zones could be different lighting.

2) Space hacks in Bedrooms

    A lot of times, Bedrooms are so small that there is barely enough space round the bed, to walk around. One Space hack could be, to create a thin vertical rack on the bed sides, instead of bed side tables, to stack books or other utility/decorative items.

bathroom

3) Making Bathrooms look larger
    One of the best ways to make a small bathroom look larger, is to install a large horizontal (or full length if you may) mirror, on the wall without any fittings.

You may also want to add a dimmer to your light fittings, to make it feel larger.

The Chronicles of Getting Anything Built or Renovated, Ever!

Hand adding another brick to a wall made from colored blocks
Anyone who has been through the building process would know how tough it is to get anything built or renovated, it’ll cost you more than it should and take forever!!


The hassles one has to go through to choose the right products for his or her project leads to price insecurities and cause many people heart ache, very often straining the client-designer relationship and upsetting the overall health of the project. Being an architect, I meet such hassled customers day in-day out. And hence, the idea of ‘BuildingBlox’ was born. Well no, we don’t make construction blocks, but what we are working on is a virtual expo of building materials. In its current form ‘BuildingBlox’ is a gallery of construction products that will come in handy while constructing or renovating any space, very soon we will expand our horizons to professionals and retailers to create a more robust platform.


The idea behind the portal is to help you reduce those material sourcing trips to the market, and to reduce your dependence on the contractor’s suggestions. We strive to give you the power to research materials and products in the comfort of your room.


We are steadily increasing the product directory and hope to make it a one stop shop for all your construction and design needs, in the interim, we hope you like what you see: http://buildingblox.in


Also watch this space for everything related to design and construction, with posts relating to new and innovative products, material quantity calculators, ‘Do It Yourself’ tips and loads more!