Interlocking blocks – a cost effective building solution for Africa

Interlocking soil-cement blocks allow for the quick and cost efficient construction of housing units and other buildings. South Africa-based Hydraform’s Interlocking Blockmaking Machines are currently being used across Africa by property developers, entrepreneurs, governments and NGOs.

A building constructed using Hydraform's interlocking bricks.

A building constructed using Hydraform’s interlocking blocks.

One such company that is benefitting from Hydraform’s technology is Malawi’s Hydra Homes Ltd. Formed in 2009 by a British Chartered Civil Engineer, the company has over 200 employees engaged in construction projects around Malawi.

Hydra Homes specialises in dry stacked interlocking construction utilising Hydraform’s blocks. This sets them apart from any other construction company in Malawi. Hydra Homes has an in-house architectural and engineering team that can offer simple advice on projects or develop full technical drawings for developments for planning and construction.

Why interlocking blocks

Steven Tucker, international sales manager at Hydraform, says that using interlocking blocks have numerous benefits, especially for companies operating on the continent.

One of the advantages of interlocking blocks is that they can be dry-stacked with no mortar. “This greatly increases the speed of construction,” he says.

This building system has been extensively tested for structural strength and durability, as well as for fire, rain and sound resistance.

Workers in Uganda receive training on using Hydraform's brickmaking machine.

Workers in Uganda receive training on using Hydraform’s blockmaking machine.

Hydraform’s blockmaking machines only use three inputs, namely soil that can be sourced on site, a small amount of cement that provides stability to the blocks, and water. As a result, the machines are ideal for sites where transport costs for cement and sand are high. They are also an eco-friendly, cost-saving alternative to conventional vibration machines. Hydraform machines are available in diesel or electrical options. Depending on the model, the machines have the capacity to produce between 1,500 and 3,000 blocks per eight-hour shift.

The machines are relatively labour intensive, requiring about six operators. Tucker says that for most companies and governments this is an advantage because it creates employment opportunities and allows for skills transfer.

According to Tucker, the company’s technology is particularly popular in Africa’s mining industry, where entire communities often have to be relocated to make way for new mines.

Hydraform also provides full training on using its machines as well as building techniques for interlocking blocks. “We offer training programmes both here in South Africa and on-site across the continent. Our technicians would give workers training on operating the machines as well as maintenance. The machines are relatively easy to use and people normally learn quite quickly.”

Tucker notes that although Africa is currently the company’s biggest market, its machines are being used extensively throughout the world, including South America, Central America, the US, Eastern Europe and India.
Hydraform also has French-speaking sales and training staff.

Other products

In addition to its Interlocking Blockmaking Machines, Hydraform offers a range of other products. These include:

VIBRAFORM Concrete Brick & Blockmaking Machines
VIBRAFORM machines are conventional concrete brick and block machines that compress by vibrating river sand, crusher dust, stone, ash, slag and other aggregates mixed with cement. These machines manufacture the standard masonry units that are used in conventional buildings. VIBRAFORM machines are available in diesel or electronic options.

Roof Tile Machines
The Hydraform tile extrusion concrete roof machines manufacture double roman concrete roofing tiles. With a daily production of 1,000 to 2,500 high-quality tiles, the machines can create a profitable medium-sized production facility for an entrepreneur who would like to start a tile plant. They are also simple to operate and to maintain.

Contact details

For more information or to request a quote, contact Hydraform at:

Email: [email protected]

French website:

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