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Rubble, rubble, toil and trouble: the building of Rubble-House

Construction work on Rubble House

Collecting survey data on Rubble House


Teaching moment with instructorRubble, rubble, toil and trouble: the building of Rubble-House

Marietta, Ga. (Oct. 7, 2011) – The SPSU community has monitored with great interest the progress made in the construction and testing of a joint endeavor with the humanitarian relief organization Conscience International known as the Rubble-House Research Project.

Conscience International has spent the past year building new homes from the rubble created by the January 2010 earthquake that left so many Haitians homeless. SPSU is helping the organization by gathering scientific data to support the belief that, not only are these houses easy and inexpensive to build, they also hold up better than traditional concrete block homes in disasters such as earthquakes. This is the first time hard data has been collected on the sturdiness of these structures, but Conscience International has already built more than 30 of them in Haiti and has plans to build many more.

Beginning in late August, SPSU faculty members and students helped Conscience International build a house out of broken chunks of concrete – one of the few resources in abundant supply in Haiti since the quake flattened so many structures – using only hand tools on the green between the J Building and Howell Hall. The Rubble-House website contains updates and additional photos. A web cam was set up on the roof of the J Building to allow anyone interested to monitor a live shot of the work, which also attracted many bystanders.

Battering ram testHaving completed much of the construction of a rough dwelling by mid-September, the team began performing a series of static load tests on the walls on Sept. 19 to measure their ability to withstand pressure of varying degrees. They also hit freestanding demo walls with a battering ram, and noted a vast difference between the damage it caused to a traditional concrete wall and a wall made of rubble. Whereas the ram destroyed the concrete-block wall in short order, the rubble wall showed only localized surface damage after extensive battering.

After destructive testing

Final, destructive testing took place on Fri., Oct. 7. Next, Dr. Fatih Oncul in the School of Architecture, Civil Engineering Technology and Construction Management, and Dr. Wasim Barham and Dr. Metin Oguzmert of the Division of Engineering will use the data collected in the tests to build mathematical models showing how the structure responded to external forces. They will also subject a  small section of the wall to a shaker table test in the near future.

The campus community is not alone in its interest in the Rubble-House project. Members of the news media have filed a number of stories on the progress being made, including the Marietta Daily Journal and WSB-TV. To view these reports, please visit:

Sept. 1 WSB-TV report 

Sept. 6 Marietta Daily Journal article

Sept. 19 WSB-TV report