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The Rubble House Research Project

Dr. Fatih Oncul, together with a team of faculty from Surveying and Mapping, Civil Engineering and Construction Management programs, initiated a research project on Rubble-Houses and conducted a full-scale static load testing on a rubble house on the campus.

News coverage during the construction stage.
News coverage on the day of static load testing.

A typical CMU wall being tested with a 120 lbs
concrete battering ram.

A rubble-wall being tested with a 120 lbs
concrete battering ram.

In January 2010, a devastating earthquake destroyed several concrete and masonry structures, killed more than 200,000 people, and left thousands of families homeless in Haiti. As part of the relief work, replacement homes have been built by U.S. non-profit organizations in areas severely hit by the earthquake. Considering the vast availability of post-earthquake rubble, the idea of a house built with walls comprised of welded wire baskets filled with loose rubble emerged as an inexpensive and immediate solution for the poor. Georgia-based Conscience International, Inc. (CI) used a unique construction technique and has built more than 70 rubble houses over the last two years. In August 2011, SPSU and CI initiated a preliminary research effort to evaluate the current construction method and seismic resistance of rubble houses. The project started under the limited sponsorship of both SPSU and CI, and largely depended on donations and volunteers. In order to increase exposure to the University community and promote student involvement, a full-scale (14 ft. wide, 20 ft. long and 8 ft. tall) rubble house was built in the middle of SPSU campus and subjected to static load testing. During planning, construction and testing more than 1200 hours of engineering and non-engineering student labor time were spent. The project increased students’ sensitivity to community issues and promoted team-based learning and interdisciplinary collaboration.

In January 2012, the team delivered presentations on their work to local meetings of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Surveying and Mapping Society of Georgia (SAMSOG). In February, they also tested a small-scale replica of the wall on a seismic shake table at ATS (Applied Technical Services). In June 2012, the project was presented at American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conferences. The research and development efforts are still in progress.

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Read the full article featured in SPSU Spring 2012 Magazine.