Pillars from stone slabs
The simple method of piling one stone upon another can be seen in many contexts
There is a trap that most practitioners fall into — the trap of complacency after years of practice. That feeling of knowing all and settled in life creating an overconfidence, blocking the possibility of in-flow of new ideas. The design and construction field, though humongous in its variation, exhibits a curious phenomenon where most consultants and contractors suggest the same few ideas and very few consultants attempt out-of-the-box ideas. An alternative idea need not always be a newly researched one never tried in history, but can equally be a variation or an adoption of an out-station practice.
Stone pillars could be a case in point. While we all know about single-stone or size-stone pillars, both officially endorsed by structural engineers, a short tour down the countryside abundant with local stones may showcase many other ways of doing pillars. Mostly attempted by individuals with no professional background in construction and seemingly localised, not all such ideas can be replicated in other buildings. Also, the contrast between rural approaches and urban contexts eliminates utilising majority of the options, otherwise tried and built. Anyway, the simple method of piling one stone upon another can be seen in many contexts – from the massive pillars of historic Egypt, to quarryside structures and remote villages of Karnataka perched on sheet rock. This method can be easily adopted today.
The rock available in slabs are cut into the column size required, say 9 inch x 9 inch, placed one over another with 1:4 mortar joint ensuring the slabs are properly dressed and get the clean corner vertical line. Such built-up pillars are good for vertical or axial loads, but by chance non-axial angular loads of sloping roofs are expected, they can be strengthened. The top stone slabs can be drilled to get a hole, filled with iron rod and grouted. Metal capping can also be tried to hold the ends of pillar. Such pillars tend to buckle to a side in case of heavy loads, but are very judicious for smaller constructions. Slabs could also be made from a larger boulder.
Each course being 3 to 5 inches thick, the pillars appear thinner compared to size-stone pillars of the same dimension. Wider base and projected capital, traditionally part of any pillar, can be easily introduced here, with stone slabs cut to the specific sizes. Unlike the size-stone pillars which require minimum 12 inch x 12 inch size, the pillars made out of cut slab can be of any size, even 7 inch x 7 inch. Of course, smaller the pillar size, lesser the load-bearing capacity. During construction, they appear weak and swaying upon pushing, but once the top load is in place, the pillar sits strong. Such pillars appear sleek, decorative and attractive, and consume less resources and cost.