The concept was to construct an eco friendly cottage that would blend into the African bush. The architect designed just such a plan. It looked good on paper, but could this “half a rugby ball” be constructed in thatch?
The challenge lay not only in the curved structure but also in the fact that this structure had to be transported across the country and into the African bush.
Structural Engineer and Technical Director at Lucas Quality Thatchers, Mr. Abrie Visagie knew he had to come up with a way to construct and design this roof in a fashion that could be pre-manufactured in-house, in Cape Town, shipped up-country into the bush and be assembled and thatched on site.
Precise shop drawings had to be drawn up, as this curved pole structure had to be capable of giving enough support without further rafters or supports, therefore being an “open structure’ on the inside, and still carry the weight of the thatch. Calculations were made that would describe the exact arch that needed to be manufactured. Specialized brackets also had to be designed that would hold all the pole sections together and yet had to be invisible. Finally the first section or “rib” was constructed and load tested in our factory in Brackenfell. It was looking good. In the same fashion each unique rib was put together until all were complete. The complete structure was then numbered and ready for loading.
Many kilometres later thatchers, materials and Abrie arrived on site. The local animal kingdom was just as curious to see this new dwelling.
After 5 days the structure was assembled and complete. The “puzzle” had come together and the “rib-cage” was complete windows and all. A wooden mezzanine floor was fitted for additional living space. It was then thatched with a fire blanket and finished off with a cement capping.
All the pre planning had paid off.