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Sun August 14 2022

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Freyssinet makes its two-millionth mud block for heritage site

23 Sep 13 After two years in production, contractor Freyssinet Saudi Arabia has passed a key milestone at the Atturaif Unesco world heritage site. It has made the two-millionth adobe mud brick for use in rebuilding the site's historic structures.

As part of the scheme, 400-year-old buildings are being rebuilt using traditional materials - clay, sand, straw and water - and methods, including a 30-day fermentation process and a seven-day drying process. In total, 2.5 million of the bricks will be made.

Consultant Buro Happold is also working on the scheme, providing services including project management and civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering for the client, the Arriyadh Development Authority.

Mud blocks are being used for the many dozens of structures that are being restored or rebuilt using traditional construction techniques and manual labour, with almost no modern equipment. Mud block compressive strengths averages at 7N/mm2 after 30 days which exceed those found in many masonry blocks, said Buro Happold. No cement or aggregate is being added -  it’s just the natural chemical reaction between clay, straw and water.

To comply with the UNESCO accreditation requirements, locally sourced materials must be used where possible. More than 35,000 Athel wood trees have been cut for roof joists, doors, windows, lintels and structural strengthening works. 

The historical city site covers 58 acres and the project involves construction of 14 new museums and 20 outdoor multimedia shows showing the history of the Saud family, the military history of the Arabian Gulf and the traditional architecture.

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