Another New Theory on the Construction of Egypt’s Pyramids

Egyptian Pyramids

Photo by Arvind Balaraman / freedigitalphotos.net.

Lately, we’re fascinated by the new discoveries and theories surrounding the construction of Egypt’s pyramids. These ancient structures continue to reveal secrets as our understanding of the engineering and materials construction grows. As you may have read here recently, at least one engineer is challenging the commonly held notion of just how the pyramids were built. And now, some researchers suggest that the Egyptians used both man-made cast block along with with limestone block quarried and hauled to the site in the way our traditional explanation proposes.

As originally published on the Watershed Materials blog, Michel Barsoum, professor of materials science at Drexel University, believes that only the exterior casing blocks and the blocks at the higher levels of the pyramids were cast geopolymer blocks. This article goes to state that as predicted, new theories that suggest that even a small portion of the stones in the Pyramids at Giza were man-made blocks formed from an early form of concrete have erupted into a firestorm of resistance and vitriol, most notably from those with the most to lose when an established theory is pulled apart. As much as Barsoum assumed that solid materials analysis could indisputably prove how some of the pyramid’s block were made, the debate still rages on. You can read the entire article here. It’s definitely worth your time.

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2e Katendrechtse Haven

Not your average apartment complex

2e Katendreschte Haven

The 2e Katendrechtse Haven high-rise towers seem to float above the peripheral construction, offering a playful yet brilliantly designed homage to the way children tend to construct with their building bricks and other such toys. Photo: DKV Architekten

Rising 21 stories above the Meuse River (or Maas River), in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the 2e Katendrechtse Haven apartment building (part of a larger neighborhood of apartments and single-family homes) is a marvelously a-typical structure – at least from a Westerner’s perspective. The Dutch, however, continue to produce exotic and unique building designs that are reflective of the independent spirit of this proud nation of 16 million people. (See the van Gogh Museum, The Animal Refuge Centre, The Music Building, etc.) Whereas most residential high-rises – perhaps even some in The Netherlands – are your average glass, steel and concrete rectangles, this complex is built with large-dimensioned red-brown brick and features a prominent, 39-foot overhang for each trapeziform tower.

Designed by DKV Architekten of Rotterdam, the 2e Katendrechtse Haven project was built between 1997 and 2003. According to DKV, the spectacular location on the river was the starting point of the architectural plan for the project.

The high-rise towers, which are oriented toward the sun, and the course of the river, seem to float above the peripheral construction, offering a playful yet brilliantly designed homage to the way children tend to construct with their building bricks and other such toys. DKV says the high-rise blocks accommodate two or three apartments on each story, and a two-story entrance hall in each tower faces the central square of the complex. These apartments have a fixed core and a flexible layout; two-floor apartments occupy the top of the stories of the buildings. All apartments are equipped with ‘exterior’ areas with windows that can be folded back along the entire width, offering a spectacular view out across the river.

According to DKV, the pallet of materials used in the entire complex was limited. The basic image-carrier of the complex, the firm says, is the red-brown brick, glued in order to reinforce the intensity of the color. Supplementary materials are wood for the square and the staggered vertical windows in the high-rises, metal in the extended facade openings and the walkway on the square, and glass for the high-rise façades facing the water, where conservatories form a single, large surface.

The architecture and the materials emphasize the uniformity of the urban ensemble, DKV reports.

Other aspects of the complex: A slightly elevated public square above a subterranean car park; and the most important street in the quarter has been extended, in the form of a monumental staircase, across the square and ending in a belvedere on the river.

It would seem that the 2e Katendrechtse Haven apartment buildings provide an idyllic setting in which to live. Residents are surrounded by nature and can, in fact, invite nature into their homes via the large glass façades. This is definitely not your average apartment building, but the Dutch probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

Project Team:
DKV Architekten (architect)
Medo Metselbedrijf (brickwork contractor)
Wienerberger [Wanlin] (brick)

Cost:
$25 million (approx.)

Size:
Built surface area – 6,185 m2
Gross floor area – 22,360 m2

Materials:
According to DKV, the main material for the complex is large-dimensioned red-brown brick. Supplementary materials are wood for the square and the staggered vertical windows in the high-rise blocks, metal in the extended facade openings and the walkway on the square, and glass for the high-rise façades facing the water, where conservatories form a single large surface.

In 2008, when we first launched Masonry Design as a print publication, I would write an article for each issue about a unique masonry structure in another country. I thought I would give these older articles new life by posting them here. This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue.

Spring Issue Preview

We are very excited to show you a preview of some of the articles included in our upcoming spring issue of Masonry Design, which should be published soon. That issue will include a feature on a remarkable restoration project in Massachusetts, an in-depth look at a revived train station outside Chicago, an article examining the many and varied definitions of the basic building material we call stone, and much more. Have a look at a few preview images below, and look for the issue landing on our website or in your inbox (free subscription) soon.

Waltham Watch Factory

The Waltham Watch Factory in Massachusetts (circa 1854) was transformed by Bruner/Cott and Associates into a mixed-use development. Photo: Richard Mandelkorn

Stone Avenue Train Station

Legat Architects worked with local officials and preservationists to restore the Stone Avenue Train Station in La Grange, Ill., which was constructed in 1901.

Fond du Lac Tailored Blend 50 percent Rockfaced, good masonry installation, joints, 2 to 1 example

The list of “stone” products today is so long, installation options so varied, and specifying requirement often so complex that stone used in masonry could have its very own Wiki-style encyclopedia to try and explain it. Photo: Buechel Stone