A Wall Building

Gabriel Oliver, Blacksburg, 2012


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Mike Cincala (website)     Download Original

  • Site plan    
  • Plan    
  • Wall guides    
  • Foundation plan    
  • Strap layout    
  • Section    
  • Notch block    
  • Top shot    
  • Set strap    
  • Scaffold work    
  • Shims in back    
  • Last unit    
  • Notching Shop    
  • Notching Shop    
  • Notching Shop    

A masonry wall built by an architecture student to demonstrate the potential of an experimental construction technique

The project, built as part of a graduate thesis, demonstrates an experimental construction technique through which a common building material is freed from the constraints of its conventional construction. In this example, the wall is constructed of regular concrete masonry units, stack-bonded in elevation and subtly transformed in plan to reveal a gradual shift of the exposed faces of the units.

The technique involves notching the units on a modified table saw prior to construction. During construction, a continuous steel strap is placed into these aligned notches, thus regulating the units’ placement. The tolerances and tools required are comparable to conventional construction.

The wall was built in a field bordering a research facility near the campus of Virginia Tech in rural Southwest Virginia. The facility, built in the early 1990’s for architecture students and faculty to test building assemblies, had over time succumbed to disuse. The wall project has revitalized the site, reactivating a valuable resource.


  • Begun: Jun 2011
  • Completed: Oct 2012
  • Floor area: 5m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £8,100
  • Funding: In-kind donations; research grants; cash donations; self
  • Tender date: Jan 2011
  • Procurement: N/A
  • Address: Building Research and Demonstration Facility, Plantation Road Research Complex, Blacksburg, 24060, United States