Tile tales

Tile tales Low-cost housing has remained on the agenda of policy makers for long now. Various options have been tried for building a dream house that would not only be affordable to the multitudes but will also retain an aesthetic appeal. The innovative tile built recently by the research team led by Sande Oladele of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Travaux Publics (enstp) in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire in the African continent, could perhaps allow for the construction of such inexpensive yet appealing houses ( idrc Report , Vol 23, No 4).

As in most African countries, materials for the building of roofs in Cote d'Ivoire are imported, causing a huge outflow of currency. However, these imported materials are unsuited to the African environment. While traditional raw materials like straw and palm leaves are used widely for roofing purposes, there are chances of them getting burnt. With such a background, Oladele and his team set about designing a tile that would be long-lasting, economical and also cost-effective.

Oladele settled for terracotta which, however, could be made into a tile only after the consumption of a lot of energy, thereby making it expensive. The trick was thus to use such materials in conjunction with terracotta so that the expenses come down. In a project funded by International Development Research Centre ( idrc) and in association with the National Research Council of Canada, a subsidiary of the Institute for Research in Construction in Ottawa, enstp scientists involved themselves in the

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