INDIGENOUS ARCHITECTURE IN THE DESERT
OPINIONS MATTER (ARCHITECT AND OWNERS)
The photos at left and above show the Omni Block walls sandblasted providing a clean, smooth and harmonious blush olive color. The homeowners are delighted with the finish as it is exactly what they envisioned and was hoping for. The owners have narrowed down their window and door trim (optional and not required with Omni Block) to the choices from the two samples above.
Notice that the top of the electrical box is 1/2″ below the bottom of the mortar line. This is by design because when the outlet is installed and finally the face plate cover is applied, the top of the face plate cover will rest exactly under the mortar line. (February 2021)
The framing is completed per these photos taken December 2020.
The block will be left exposed inside and out and sandblasted to a smooth uniform finish.
The home is nestled in the desert landscape of Cavecreek, Arizona
The block color is an “olive blush” per Solomon Colors to closely resemble the palo verde sage trees on the property.
These interior photos are BEFORE the sandblasting process. Sandblasting will remove all of the mortar and grout stains, all of the blemishes and soften all of the edges of the block.
The house was designed so that there was not one dimensional block cut (other than the electrical and plumbing embeds). This means that all the windows and doors have complete blocks (16″ or 8″) next to them, which is much easier to the eye than small block dimensions.
This photo shows a 6-gang electrical box. The boxes are installed 3/8″ from the top of the block to allow the eventual decorative faceplate to rest immediately under the mortar-to-faceplate seam.
Notice that the architect has specified a window sill cover plate that matches the crossover lintel above (see adjacent photo). These cover plates are installed before the window installation and although not required, are a nice aesthetic touch.
Steel I-Beams are used to cantilever the future roof over the outdoor living area and to tie building sections together. I-Beams have welded rebar legs that are set into the block grout cells all per structural engineering specifications. Omni Block can be engineered to support these types of structural requirements.
Several Omni Block walls contain ledger bolts embedded in solid grouted bond beams as illustrated in this photo. There are also Simpson straps set into the bond beam per structural engineering.
This photo shows a number of walls prior to the interior walls being framed. The angled top of one wall (rake) is done with precision and includes top plate bolts protruding above the block.
The block is up 4’8″ (first lift). The full cells with rebar protruding out of them are adjacent to windows higher in the wall. The vertical Schedule 40 PVC conduit is for the electrical outlet below and the black pipe towards the end of the block run is a copper water main wrapped in black tape to prevent any corrosion.
Block is solid construction and always level, plumb and square.
The left window jamb is defined with a sill height of 40″.
The concrete floor will be exposed when the home is finished so the general contractor has laid down a protective sheathing that may be reused.
Vertical rebar is 1 # 5 every 48″ on center so those cells are left void for grout. All other cells are insulated. The result is three layers of masonry and two layers in EPS insulation. The insulation is snugly installed but is designed to allow moisture to migrate within the wall.
This photo shows the patio door location. Every door and window must have a solid grout cell adjacent to it per code. The concrete slab is “turned down” and is 8″ deep at the edge because it is above an 8″ stem portion below. The stem-to-vertical wall transition is seamless.
Omni Block is a much better stem wall solution because it insulates the slab on the exterior rather than a layer of insulation placed against a concrete stem prior to the concrete slab being poured. In that situation the heat can either enter into the building or move out of the building through the stem. Both of the first course cells and the interior cells of the second course are solid grouted. The Omni Block stem perfectly matches the block above so the transition is seamless.