Masonry Block Construction In Haiti

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Earthquake Resistant Engineering Structures VIII299Masonry block construction in HaitiL. Holliday1, C. Ramseyer2 & F. H. Grant31Division of Construction Science, University of Oklahoma,Norman Oklahoma, USA2Department of Civil Engineering, University of Oklahoma,Norman, Oklahoma, USA3Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Oklahoma,Norman, Oklahoma, USAAbstractMost of the building failures in Haiti during the January 12th, 2010 earthquakewere CMU block buildings. It is the locally preferred building material. Since itis difficult to import materials into Haiti, CMU block is made with local sand(sometimes beach sand which includes a significant amount of salt) andaggregate and only requires Portland cement to be imported. The blocks aremade in a press-type machine without steam and at comparatively little pressure.The blocks contain as little as 1/30th Portland cement by volume and are left in ayard to dry cure, rather than moist curing. The blocks are sometimes so weakthat they must be handled by workers with two hands or they break under theirown weight. Tests at the University of Oklahoma reveal the blocks have anextremely low compressive strength (as low as 300 psi). Given the typicalconstruction techniques used in Haiti, which include heavy concrete slab roof,focusing on hurricane resistance rather than earthquakes, the current CMU blockfabrication method was a recipe for disaster that was realized.OU researchers worked with local Haitian organizations, primarily atChristianville Mission, to improve the quality of CMU blocks in Haiti. Theyprovided guidelines for the CMU block mix, and curing instructions. Tests showthe compressive strength of the CMU block has increased by more than threetimes with relatively little additional cost. This paper discusses the problemswith current fabrication techniques for CMU block in Haiti, changes which canbe made with relatively little cost or effort, and the resulting improvements inblock strength realized.Keywords: masonry, Haiti, earthquake.WIT Transactions on The Built Environment, Vol 120, 2011 WIT, ISSN 1743-3509 (on-line)doi:10.2495/ERES110251

300 Earthquake Resistant Engineering Structures VIII1 Introduction and history of ChristianvilleChristianville has a long and rich history in its mission work for children. Itbegan in the 1960s as an orphanage. Legend has it that “Papa Doc”, theinfamous dictator of Haiti, originally donated the land for the orphanage andhired a woman from Jamaica to run it. It operated in this mode for several years.One of the sons of that woman, Wayne Herget, is still involved withChristianville. He currently lives in Atlanta, but has spent as much as 15 yearsliving in Haiti and knows the country and local community well.This mission was expanded to agriculture education, which eventuallyreplaced the orphanage function. It began as an education source for raisingpigs, and expanded to raising freshwater fish, primarily Tilapia. This still existstoday except that the pig production was replaced by goat production as it is amore efficient conversion of feed to protein. Egg farming was also added about10 years ago and the mission now produces 800 eggs per day, used primarily forfood for the students attending the mission education program. There is also abuilding owned by the Haitian Fisheries Ministry on the grounds ofChristianville. This is an education resource for visiting students and scholarsconcerned with fish production. It is a recently constructed building but washeavily damage during the earthquake.A church in Indiana, First Christian, eventually adopted the educationcomponent of Christianville and, over many years, built several buildings tosupport education. These buildings included a preschool, elementary school,high school, and college. Most of these original buildings were destroyed orheavily damaged in the earthquake of 2010. The mission is now working onrebuilding some of those buildings and redefining the scope of its educationmission.Christianville also houses other missions in the form of a medical clinic, andeye clinic, and a dental clinic. These are sponsored by various or individualsagencies in the US. They have little connection to the Christianville educationmission other than proximity.Christianville also hosts mission teams and has a facility to house and feedthese teams. Most of them are now focused on repairing or rebuilding damagedbuildings. They have two dormitory facilities also with private rooms for someof the longer term volunteers.2 Building practices and materialsIn recent times there has been a shortage of wood in Haiti and this has led to atrend in which building construction there relies heavily on Portland cement.Buildings are sometimes constructed of reinforced concrete but this requireswooden formwork, in a land where 1”x4” wooden formwork pieces are sovaluable, they are recycled till they will no longer function. Building with CMUblock requires less formwork and therefore it has become the more popularchoice for construction. Most buildings seen from the street in Port of Prince areconstructed of CMU block walls (or sometimes reinforced concrete walls) withWIT Transactions on The Built Environment, Vol 120, 2011 WIT, ISSN 1743-3509 (on-line)

Earthquake Resistant Engineering Structures VIIIFigure 1:301Typical buildings in Port-au-Prince, Haiti shown following theearthquake.reinforced concrete slab roofs and floors (Figure 1). After the earthquake it isobvious upon inspection that these buildings were constructed with little steelreinforcement and poor connection details.3 Lack of building materials and building standardsThere are many factors that contribute to the poor quality of construction inHaiti. There are no building or material standards in place to control the qualityof construction. In addition to this, years of poverty have slowly reduced thequality of materials made in-country. For example, during building inspectionsat Christianville, it was noted that older buildings were built with better qualityconcrete and masonry block. Over the years, in an attempt to save money, theamount of Portland cement used was reduced. In the most recently builtbuildings, the CMU block was of such poor quality that workers had to handlethe blocks with two hands. Otherwise the blocks would break apart under theirown weight. In addition to the poor materials used in construction, the methodsof construction also reduce building quality. Residents build their own homesand are therefore left to determine the important structural details themselves. Inaddition to this homes are built slowly as resources are available. If ahomeowner is able to save a few funds they put this into building materials as away to slowly save for a home. This pace makes it difficult to hire craftsmenwho would be trained to construct with recommended standards.4 Performance of CMU block buildingsThere were several buildings at Christianville built of CMU block. Of the CMUblock buildings there were two different structural systems at Christianville: 1)WIT Transactions on The Built Environment, Vol 120, 2011 WIT, ISSN 1743-3509 (on-line)

302 Earthquake Resistant Engineering Structures VIIIbuildings built entirely of CMU block and 2) building built of a hybrid ofreinforced concrete beams and columns with CMU block walls.Most of the buildings constructed using CMU were a hybrid of reinforcedconcrete frames and CMU walls. The reinforced concrete frames are built withlittle attention to detailing at beam-column connections which results in lowmoment capacity of the frames [1]. Because of these low moment capacityframe connections, the building relies heavily on the CMU walls to resist lateralloads [2]. Additionally, as seen in Figure 2, it is very common for the secondstory to cantilever over the first story. This creates a structural irregularity in theperimeter wall system where a great deal of the lateral load resisting system islocated.Figure 2:Newly constructed building which is a hybrid of reinforcedconcrete and CMU block.There were seven hybrid buildings at Christainville and of these sevenbuildings, four were two-story buildings which all collapsed or were damagedbeyond repair. The three one- story hybrid system buildings performed better.Only one collapsed, one was severely damaged, and one remained undamaged.It is worth noting that the undamaged building had a lightweight steel roof.Several of these hybrid buildings that failed were newly constructed buildingswhere the CMU block performed poorly as a shear wall (figures 4-6).There were four buildings constructed of CMU blocks (without reinforcedconcrete beams and columns) with light-weight steel roofs that consisted of steeltrusses or bar joists with metal panels. All four of these building performed welland showed almost no signs of damage.WIT Transactions on The Built Environment, Vol 120, 2011 WIT, ISSN 1743-3509 (on-line)

Earthquake Resistant Engineering Structures VIII303Figure 3:Wall shear failure in newly constructed hybrid reinforced concreteand CMU block (left outside view, right inside view).Figure 4:Newly constructed building with a hybrid system of reinforcedconcrete with CMU block.5 Block making in HaitiCMU blocks used in building construction in Haiti are made locally. They areoften made with hand operated mechanical presses as shown in Figure 5. TheyWIT Transactions on The Built Environment, Vol 120, 2011 WIT, ISSN 1743-3509 (on-line)

304 Earthquake Resistant Engineering Structures VIIIFigure 5:Figure 6:Machine used to make CMU block in Haiti.Sample of Haitian concrete (left) and a typical US concrete sample(right). Note the Haitian concrete is loose and chalky and able toleave a chalk line with very little pressure.are made with local sand and gravel. These ingredients are often of poor quality.The sand may contain salt and the gravel is typically smooth shaped rather thanjagged in shape so the bond to the cement paste is not as strong as it could be.The Portland cement, which is the only imported ingredient, is often of poorquality and visual inspection indicated (by a gritty texture of the powder) that itWIT Transactions on The Built Environment, Vol 120, 2011 WIT, ISSN 1743-3509 (on-line)

Earthquake Resistant Engineering Structures VIII305was partially hydrated. Workers interviewed said the mix for the block consistedof mostly sand and gravel with as little as 1/30th Portland cement. Rather thanhaving a characteristic gray color found in a properly produced CMU, theseblocks have so little Portland cement they are white or yellow in color. Thenewly constructed blocks are placed (uncovered) in the sun to dry and with noattention to typical curing processes such as controlled humidity. Blocks are notsteamed during curing and often formed under little or no pressure. Figure 6shows a sample of Haitian concrete next to a typical US sample of concrete.Blocks are sometimes so weak that workers must lift blocks with two hands orelse blocks fall apart. Visual inspections indicate the block is of poor quality andtesting verified this.6 Testing of CMU blockSamples from several CMU block buildings were tested at the Donald G. FearsStructural Engineering Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma [3–7]. Thefirst set of samples was taken from the buildings damaged during the earthquake.The results from the compression tests of these samples are shown in Table 1. Inthe case of the building shown in Figures 2 and 3, the mortar coating the blockshad a higher compressive strength than the blocks themselves.Table 1:Compressive test results for Haitian CMU samples.Sample descriptionBlock samples from the building shown in Figure 4Sample 1Sample 2Sample 3Block samples from the building shown in Figures 2 and 3Sample 1Sample 2Samples from an older building (hybrid structural system)Sample 1Sample 2 (interior mortar coating)Sampl

Masonry block construction in Haiti L. Holliday1, C. Ramseyer2 & F. H. Grant3 1Division of Construction Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman Oklahoma, USA 2Department of Civil Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA 3Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA Abstract Most of the building failures in Haiti during the January 12th .

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