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Meva Formwork help build Social Housing on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast

HAITERBACH/GERMANY, September 24, 2013 - Colombia’s economic is growing fast and with it, the building industry is booming. Bridges, tunnels, high-rise buildings, shopping centres – the South Americans are building, renovating and rejuvenating their infrastructure and catching up to create mass housing so badly needed for the population. At Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast, the national housing ministry is building a new quarter called “Las Gardenias” with a total of 5,000 apartments for the poor. Traditionally, residential construction in Colombia has to do without a crane. In addition, walls and slabs are poured in one go to save time. And instead of plastering the walls, they are left as is.

Use of AluFix Formwork Applications in Columbia

AluFix – the Volkswagen for Formwork Applications. | photo: Herrenknecht

The contractor required a formwork solution that is easy and quick to assemble by hand, robust enough for tough local conditions and has a facing that survived the humid climate and yet delivered a first class architectural concrete finish first time, every time and covers walls and slabs in one system. The consortium Unión Temporal Havivir comprising four contractors, chose Meva’s AluFix hand-set formwork with the alkus all-plastic facing.

The Requirement: Fast, Efficient, Cost-Effective

Many years of migration from rural areas into the big cities has led to a rapid increase in Colombia’s urban population. With it, the demand for housing has exploded, all the more for lower income groups. Government policy is to compensate this backlog by speeding up residential building projects. Speed is meant literally: very fast building cycles, efficiency in the process and straightforward building design. A good example is the „Las Gardenias“ residential project. 5,000 apartments divided into 250 blocks, each with 5 levels housing 4 apartments each. The layout of each apartment is always identical.

The walls are 2.30 m (7.55 ft) high and 8 cm (3.15 inch) thick; the slabs are 10 cm thick (3.9 inch) thick. AluFix covers the slab formwork with the same standard panels that are used for the walls, simply using props with special prop heads. This solution answers to the contractor’s primary demand: a simple system, fast to set up and easy for any worker to learn. It is the first time that the teams are using high-tech formwork from Europe instead of the traditional local wooden forms. The solution also answers the demand for low inventory, few additional parts and easy logistics to handle the immense volume of pouring work.

Fast Progress: every Formwork Set achieves one complete Building level per Day

Taking concrete pressure up to 55 kN/m² (1,358 psf), the AluFix allows pouring speed up to 2.64 m (8.5 ft), which means that the walls can be completed in a single 2.30 m (7.55 ft) pour. The slab is formed in one and the same pour. One set of formwork is needed to complete all five levels of a building. Thanks to the relatively high temperatures of 25 to 35°C (77 to 86° F) the concrete sets quickly, so that the formwork can be stripped soon after the pour. Another time advantage is provided by the alkus all-plastic facing. It is cleaned directly on site, repaired using the identical material to remove nail holes or other damages. This saves unnecessary transport to and from the building yard and reduces down times to an absolute minimum. A few panels not ready for the next pour would add up to a huge delay in the building process. This is avoided completely.

Building is on schedule for completion in 2014.

Building work started just a few months ago and is going so well, that the site is aiming at completing 20 instead of 16 apartments per day. In addition to the apartment houses, a complete residential infrastructure is being developed on the site covering almost 5 hectare, including community facilities, medical centres and schools, set in an extensive park. In 2014 the first tenants will be moving in, leaving their housing shortage behind them.

The AluFix is a formwork leader when it comes to building without a crane. Depending on regional building methods or technical requirements the fields of application vary strongly. In central Europe, crane-independent work is typical in residential construction and in renovation works. In the Asian Pacific region, for example on the Philippines, many residential projects require inside walls to be poured after the slab, calling for a hand-set, light-weight formwork. High-rise construction, particularly, needs small inventory solutions that can be set with just a few workers. AluFix proves its worth as an all-rounder here, much like the Beetle did when Europe needed an affordable car for the general population.