Enclosing the Structure

Enclosing the Structure

Post by Omar Davis, Masters of Landscape Architecture 2014, Harvard University

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday morning we were still feeling quite behind on our progress. The second floor was nearly finished but the third floor didn’t exist. The tunnel was cemented together but required the coverage of many cubic yards of earth. The skin-like walls of the tower needed to be attached. And the bridge needed to be hoisted up into place! We started in the morning with much gusto but by lunch found that we were still moving at an insufficient pace.

During lunch we discussed what tasks were inefficient and how we could reorganize our work. At this stage of construction were were slicing so much wood for the floors and walls that we decided to set up a cutting station.  We developed a system to make measurements by placing planks on the structure, handing this wood down to the station for cutting, and sending it back up to be screwed in place. This system employed a number of RAW students and Oaxacaeños in a fantastic assembly line. Trading commands and requests, planks and power tools, we fell into a rhythmic flow of materials and information. By the end of the day we covered much ground and felt a sense of comfort, knowing that we could use the same system at the very beginning of the next day.




One of the highlights of Thursday came toward the very end of the workday. Our tunnel got its much-needed coverage from a very large ‘helping hand’. Carl, the skilled ‘retro’ operator, was called in to carefully place earth on top of the tunnel to build a ramp and embankment.  I began to appreciate the finesse and dexterity required to operate an ungainly machine of seemingly unlimited strength. The tunnel was covered in less than an hour and we were finally able to walk across the top with much confidence!

With the sun hanging low in the sky, spilling orange light onto the site, we marveled at our ability to rally and reorganize our forces.   Although we are far from finished, we built an organizational framework that we will use to complete the structure in the days ahead. 

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