The existing shower was a temporary one made of bamboo supports and bamboo mats. Gradual termite infestation over a period of 3 months led to its needing renovation. In a span of three days, the following repairwork was done.
Replacement of the Structural Frame
The columns of the frame were replaced with new bamboo and small tree trunks. The shower, being open to sky, does not require the columns to bear the load of a roof. They only need to transfer the load of the beams onto which palm leaves are tied. The new columns were wrapped with plastic upto 2’ from the bottom. Holes for the footings were dug in the same place as the previous columns, but made deeper. After placing the columns, the holes were filled with a mix of earth and aggregates. This being a temporary structure, the use of cement was avoided. The aggregates provide strength and the earth acts as a binding material.
Between each pair of columns three horizontal members were tied. As these members only need to bear the load of lightweight panels, we were free to experiment with palm stems, bamboo and wood.
Replacement of Bamboo Mat Panels with Palm Leaf Panels
Kerala rope is known to be the best material for tying bamboo, wood and similar materials. Screwing and bolting are faster but weaken the members by breaking their long continuous fibres. We chose to use metal binding wires in pairs to tie palm leaves onto the horizontal members. Binding wire holds the leaves in place similar to rope, but the method of tying is faster.
By tying the leaves with the ribs directing downwards, any water that falls on the them is able to run off towards the ground. This prevents accumulation of water and fungal growth.
Addition of Door
The layout of the shower is such that privacy is maintained even in the absence of a door. However, with more people staying on site, a door was a welcome addition. Plywood planks taken from the resource centre were screwed together to form a frame. More planks were screwed on as horizontal members.
A metal L-section with a cylindrical concrete base was inserted into the ground. A long wooden member 1’x2’ in cross section was screwed to the metal L-section. Finally, the door was fixed on the wooden member with steel hinges.
Jute bags were hung on the inside of the shutter to make the door opaque.
Renovating the shower gave us the ideal chance to use the natural materials lying on our site. Tree trunks, bamboo, palm stems, palm leaves, plywood… all these were given a second life in the new shower 🙂