Monthly Archives: May 2012

How to sneak a concrete staircase into a garden.

So, we’re building this 2 story structure for CAFE MANANA our coffee Shop and Gallery here in San Pancho. Having 2 floors meant we needed a way to get up and down. Now the idea of customers sliding down a pole was amusing but thought it might be hard for them to shimmy up the pole with coffee and baked goods in their hands. Though again amusing to visualize we decided to go a more traditional way. At first we were just going to go with a spiral iron staircase which here is simply referred to as a Caracol (snail) as we didn’t really want to eat into our garden. But with the a little putting of heads together with our abanil (mason) Beto we figured out to wrap a concrete staircase around the avocado tree.

The engineering of these concrete staircases is really an art form.  Check out the way this puppy is supported.

















Now the rebar you see sticking up has been embedded in the concrete between the blocks and now will be bent to go up the slope where more rebar will be added and wired together to then be enveloped in a bed of concrete.

Below you can see the underside of the wooden planks upon which the concrete (with rebar) will be poured. The use scraps from the bags of cement to fill gaps between the wooden planks to stop the wet concrete from oozing out.


These boards are used and reused from one job to the next and so sometimes need a bit of surgery in order to get the right length and support needed.


Boards are placed also on the sides of the ramp and landings so a proper layer of cement can be poured..



Here below you can see evidence of the stop-gap paper I spoke of.


Our iron doors and windows were ready a bit ahead of time so they installed those for downstairs as all of the cement work on the first level was complete. We stashed the ones for the second floor and the Herrero and his crew will return to install them. Then we need to get someone else to come and put glass in.


The railings below that are leaning up against the  new windows were from our rooftop deck where we had them removed and kitchen garden planters built knowing we would reuse the rails on the terrace of the shop.


The door is a bit dusty but we LOVE it!



Now can we talk about scaffolding! I don’t really think it was designed to use it this way but it works. Now pay attention ’cause I’m going to walk you through the anatomy of the scaffolding system presently being used at Casita Cielo Azul in the construction the Cafe Manana. So let’s go upstairs and inside where we’ll start…..


Now this hole really is for an outlet but as we don’t need it yet why not open it all the way to the exterior, stick a 2 x 4 through, wedge some scrap pieces in the make it a tight fit in order to help hold up the scaffolding the guys are using to finish the outside concrete work.


Noe here is the same board sticking OUT of the building. With the walking plank on top of it.


Now you might have to squint but in the pic below you can see the 2 x 4 sticking into the room on the bottom right and the walking plank it is supporting on the outside of the house on the left. You might now want to scroll back up a few shots to see the Physics of Scaffolding at it’s best.


Linc I do believe we’re about ready for the concrete to be poured encasing the blocks! Now speaking of concrete. Rather than using a mixer the concrete is mixed on the floor or the street and then toted, bucket by bucket to where it’s needed.