Naoum Shebib
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Cairo Motor building, 1947 diapo- Cairo Motor

In 1947, Cairo Motor mandated Naoum Shebib to undertake the structural design and construction of the sales and service center for De Soto (Chrysler) cars and trucks.

Description

The main building located in the center housed the administrative services, and two wings were reserved for company vehicle showrooms. These wings were built so that vehicles could easily be moved around within a huge column-free space. Each wing was covered with a thin reinforced concrete shell roof, a structure supported by eight columns only. This provided a great deal of space for moving vehicles around.

Construction

The construction technique used, patented under the name "Voûte Chebib" (Chebib Vault), can be summarized as follows. A vault-shaped earth mould was built on the floor. Steel rods were positioned on the mould and a thin layer of concrete poured over them. The concrete then took the shape of the mould and coated the steel rods. Once the concrete had hardened, the vault was slowly raised to its final position, by resorting to an ingenious system of jacks.

 

Excerpt from an article published by Chrysler Corporation

The fame of the "Chebib Vault" technique extended far beyond the borders of Egypt, as it appears from an article published by Chrysler Corporation's Export Division of Detroit (Michigan, USA), in the 1950 March/April edition of its magazine. The article entitled They built the roof to the ground describes the construction technique as follows:

"This new system of construction is, to the best of my knowledge, unique," said Capt. Raymond Flower, Managing Director of the Cairo Motor Company. [...] Dr. Naoum Shebib, the inventor, explains it in this wise. 'A flat sheet of paper, held by one end can support little, perhaps not even its own weight; but bend the edges of the paper upward, forming a scoop, and it will support many times its own weight.' The theory is apparently as simple as that, with all due regard for stresses and strains, of course."