Sanergy recently welcomed Dr. George Nez to campus. Dr. Nez graduated from MIT’s City Planning program in 1950.  He is an unsung hero of development – providing stable, easy-to-build housing in post-disaster areas for the last 60 years.

Dr. Nez has pushed the application of thin-shell concrete to new levels by building “hyperbolic paraboloid roofs” in emergency housing situations in the developing world. Its application places a strong priority on the time-critical element of providing shelter first, and allowing for the walls to be filled in using traditional methods later. His work has been used for housing all over the world, including Ghana in 1961 where in only 18 months, 100,000 people were resettled into 14,000 houses.

Dr. Nez’s on-the-ground expertise and inspirational results lent themselves to being a prime learning experience for Sanergy. Nez conducted a 5-day workshop with us to develop even lighter thin-shell cement walls for our sanitation facilities. If we are able to implement the thin-shell cement walls, we will be able to reduce the thickness of the cement to 1/6 of the thickness of the first Sanergy toilet – which was only 1.5 inches to begin with.

We also learned how to make a hyperbolic paraboloid roofs using just wood, fiberglass screen, lots of staples, and thin-shell cement. The roof is strong, light and durable. As we look to build our first processing centers and transfer stations in the coming months, this design could be a perfect fit.

Overall, the testing and workshop went extremely well. Dr. Nez really put the team to work, pointing out that “Lunch is a waste of time!” and extolling us to work faster, harder and more! We would like to thank Dr. Nez for sharing his time, the MIT International Development Initiative for sponsoring the event and to John Fernandez, the Director of Building Technology,  for his generous support of the workshop.

You can see all of the photos here.

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