Sandcastles Vol. 1: The Early Years

In my youth, I was a pioneer of “extreme sandcastling”, a sport which was almost included in the Olympics! Just kidding. Here is the first set of ancient box camera photos from my sandcastle archives. These sandy structures were all made in our sandbox in Hinsdale, IL.

AWM Sandcastle Archives Label

Rebuilding Haiti

It seems there is hope for Haiti! I’ve been impressed with what I’ve read about President elect Michel Martelly, especially his emphasis on “permanent, prefabricated homes”.

Martelly inherits a massive housing & humanitarian problem, to be sure. Based on my experience with SIPS and concrete block construction in the Caribbean, I believe Martelly can choose either fast or permanent, but not both – and definitely not in his first 100 days.

The answer is Ferrocement. My company, am-cor inc., has developed a proposal which would allow Martelly to permanently house:

  • 100,000 people
  • in 100 days
  • for US $69/person

All using truly safe hurricane & earthquake proof construction, in the form of Ferrocement housing Kits.

Building Communities with Ferrocement

Initially, I had high-minded aspirations in my search for a better building system. My Yale architectural graduate thesis focused on low-cost, modular housing kit designs for Harlem, NY. While working on low-cost housing production in 1970’s Jamaica, I had firsthand experience of the technical issues involved with mass-producing hurricane & earthquake-resistant housing. (Anybody remember bagasse board? We used to make houses out of it!). The am‑cor Ferrocement System is competitive only because I developed it by applying a scientific, engineering based method of trial & error, and refinement through experimentation.

What I didn’t realize was how building with the System can affect individuals, bring them together, and create transformative, community experiences: it’s a “pure joy” moment, to witness a group of people stand back, look at what they’ve done together, and say:

Wow, we built that!”

Yale Arch Cartoons, Vol. 1

I’ve always been artistically oriented, and cartooning has always been a favorite pastime as well as a creative outlet. During my enlightening yet stressful years at Yale, I often poked fun at the institution, our professors, and architecture, my calling.

How Ferrocement can save the world!

I recently listened to an extremely interesting Stanford entrepreneurial podcast by Brent Constantz of Calera, who definitely has a planet-changing vision. You can listen here.

Brent and I share the same goals: to use technology to reduce the carbon footprint of the world’s construction industry.

Hometown Art

When I returned from Jamaica in the 1970’s, I moved to the family farm (where I still live). The nearby town straddling the Rapidan River is Rapidan, VA. It’s a quaint, tiny milltown which used to grind flour with a water wheel, and even has its own Wikipedia page! The old mill is being turned into an alternate energy electric generation station, which is pretty cool.

I used to make my own beer & wine

Just like ancient monks…

My Ferrocement Story

Recently, I’ve been speaking with some of my architecture friends about the prefabricated Ferrocement building system I invented (the am‑cor System), and they’ve said, “Remind me Angus, what exactly is Ferrocement?”

I’ve been breathing all things Ferrocement for years now, and it’s easy to forget that Ferrocement is definitely not mainstream (yet!).

This blog entry will serve as a quick introduction to Ferrocement and my experiences with it.

I’m Back!

My New Years resolution for 2011 is to get back in touch with my old friends (especially Hinsdale, Yale, Jamaica and architecture friends) and be more active online. So, expect more from me!

Connect with me online:

ex libris’ Bookplates

While going through my sketchbook archives, I found these cool bookplates I designed for a young David Pinto. I made two versions, and I’m pretty happy how they turned out.