Hands-on Workshop on Cost Effective Construction Technologies' 2017

“Paper to Practice”:

A hands-on experiment towards realizing cost effective technologies. 

Held on 13th Jan’ 2017 – 14th Jan’ 2017

At Piloo Mody College of Architecture, Cuttack.


“Paper to Practice”: A hands-on experiment towards realizing cost effective technologies.

“He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” – Maria Montessori


A hands-on workshop for learning through experience the cost effective technologies hitherto taught in theory, for the students. The workshop aimed at development of a defined stretch of the informal path connecting the Architecture block with the +2 block, ABIT campus, with the use of appropriate technologies.

Type of Technology use:

  1. Earth bag construction
  2. Soil-cement stabilization
  3. Re-use of discarded/scrap material (glass)

Expected outcome: 

A 10’-20’ part stretch of well-defined pathway of approximately 4’-5’ ROW – as a model approach for complete stretch development.

Faculty involvement:

Ar. Jyotsna Datta Chaudhuri, Ar. Ruma Bhatt, Ar. Chitrasen Parida, & Ar. Raj Sekhar Choudhury and IGBC Students’ Chapter, PMCA, Cuttack.

Student involvement:

Selected students (on basis of merit) across all the semesters participated.

The Workshop:

Friday, 13th Jan’ 2017 (09:00AM – 10:00AM):

The selected group of students was briefed about the workshop by the faculty coordinators: regarding the scope of work, the methodology of execution, and the expected outcome. Safety instruction were given and explained as it was mandatory for the students to wear shoes and caps for the workshop. The students were then taken to the site of work.

Friday, 13th Jan’ 2017 (10:00AM – 05:00AM):

At the very first outset, a site acclimatization survey was conducted, and the physical limits of the site identified and marked. A group of six (6) students were asked to prepare de-limiting signage (2 each) to be installed on either limit of the linear stretch to discourage people to use the stretch for their thoroughfare.

Other students were divided into groups, as per the following work:

  1. A group of six (6) students to excavate the earth of the stretch.
  2. A group of ten (10) students to sieve the excavated earth, to be used for filling the cement bags later.
  3. A group of twelve (12) students to fill sand into the glass bottles.

The required amount of earth was excavated out and removed in the first hour of the workshop, by the students. The same group of students than leveled and rammed the underlying earth. Cement bags collected (free of cost) from other construction sites by the students, were then cleaned. A mixture of earth and sand in ratio of (1:8) was then filled in to the cement bags, stitched and placed, to create the embankment wall for the pathway. A total of thirty (30) earth bags were made and used. Alternate layers of earth bags were placed by ‘breaking the course’ and using earth sand dry mortar, as binding agent.

Glass bottles (approximately 300) were collected from various faculty members on request. Another seven hundred (700) bottles were procured from ‘kabadiwallas’ and brought onto the site by four (4) students. Twelve (12) students engaged themselves in the tedious work of filling sand into the glass bottles. Each bottle was meticulously filled and then immersed into bucket full of water, overnight, for sand compaction. By the end of the first day, about five hundred (500) bottles were made ready to be used the next day. All the earth bags were kept in place and embankment finished.

Various faculty members also made it convenient to come to the site and encourage the students.

Saturday, 14th Jan’ 2017 (10:00AM – 05:00AM):

On the second day, the sub-grade of the pathway was made ready by repeated ramming and watering of the base. Broken cement mortar pieces and broken brick bats lying astray near to the work site were brought by arranging relay-lines. Two alternate layers of each (of about 3” each) were laid and watered and rammed in place. Then followed layers of sand, which was also compacted in similar fashion.

A group of students were then assigned with designing on-situ a design pattern for the flooring. For this they marked with chalk a simple pattern on the adjacent basket-ball court and created a mock layout with bottles and bricks in exact (1:1) scale. This was done in a manner so as to facilitate part by part transfer of the both (bottles and bricks) to the actual place of work.

Post lunch, the final work of flooring of the pathway began. Initially the final level of the pathway was checked with water level and fixed with pegs and strings. Then the bricks were laid, for which students prepared cement mortar in ratio of (1:6) and help of an experienced mason was taken. After compartmentalization of the pathway was done using bricks, the bottles began to be laid. Laying the bottles was quite a tedious process, as it involved repeated placing and replacing the bottles and filling in the voids with sand. It took more than two (2) hours of patient labour to accomplish the task. Then the finished pathway was heavily watered to settle in the sand and bring compaction. The exposed edge of the earth bag embankment was simultaneously given a 45 degree (1:1) slope. For this again wasted broken brick bats available in near vicinity were used. Two relay lines of students dumped in more than hundred (100) baskets of broken brick bats, on the edge of the embankment. On top of the broken brick bats, larger pieces of earth and gravels (left-over from sieving of excavated earth) were dumped. As the desired gradient was obtained, the slope was thoroughly watered to settle the debris in place and provide strength.

An important work was to clear the adjacent basketball court and its premises of the remains of the two day work. So a group of eight (8) students engaged themselves, firstly to remove and re-stock all the unused materials to the temporary experimental construction yard and secondly to clean by sweeping and washing the basketball field. Another group of four (4) students collected and stocked back the equipments brought from the construction laboratory. The work was accomplished and all rejoiced by sharing beverages from the college canteen.


As envisaged the workshop proved to be a first hand learning experience for students, who enjoyed it thoroughly full of zest and energy. A well-defined stretch of part pathway – as a model approach for complete stretch development – was the main physical output of the workshop. The workshop was jointly conducted with the IGBC students’ chapter of PMCA, to showcase involvement of green reuse of scrap materials, in eco-friendly construction activities of the college.

Following the workshop a group of twenty (20) students were further selected, on the basis of their performance, for participating in another workshop at Jatin Das Cultural Academy (JDCA), Bhubaneswar held between 20.01.2017 – 22.01.2017. There our students in collaboration with students from Department of Architecture, College of Engineering & Technology (CET), Bhubaneswar and Department of Architecture, Sri Sri University (SSU), Cuttack constructed two sculpted walls using the scrap materials available on the site.





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