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gabion baskets

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I have always wanted to take the general idea of gabion baskets and build something. gabion baskets are wire 'boxes' filled with rock. they are often used for retain. it seems that they often could be produced locally (mostly) and would make a very sturdy structure, especially for a partial underground construction project.

http://www.gabionbaskets.net/gabion%20standard%20sizes.htm


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14828
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
You could be the first to build a structure out of them. 


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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
well, maybe some day. I was looking at the shale that is abundant on the property we are moving to and wondering what I could do with it. it would take some equipment to move the baskets around which is a downside. I think that with just a bit of stabilization walls made with them could support a roof. they would be somewhat porous as is but maybe something could be mixed with the rock to help fill in the gaps and/or the exposed exterior and interior could be stuccoed like straw bale homes. they would probably make a killer bomb/fallout shelter.
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
I have never heard the term "gabion basket" before. I've seen something like them, but didn't know what they were called. Gabion is a good scrabble word! 
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
The gabions that I've seen/read about were all for erosion control, and were built in place.  They laid the wire mesh in place, filled it with rocks, then pulled up the sides and fastened them to form the 'basket'.

I see them used around here as mailbox-holders, to discourage people from running their cars into them.  They make a circle of wire mesh (usually 2x4" welded wire) around a mailbox post (usually already in place), and then fill it with rocks.  If you hit one of those suckers with your car, you will be sorry!

There might be a problem building walls of them, due to the 'topple factor'.  You could add concrete between them, but then you might as well do slipforming, which would probably be more stable.

I also saw a low retaining wall made with gabions, just driving by one day.  It had the wire mesh on the outside, but I couldn't tell if there was a concrete core, or if it was partly buried.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
that is where i have seen them too. along the highways  there are some huge walls made with them. I guess i jsut assumed they were moved into place i didn't realize they built them in place. i was envisioning making a basement like tornado shelter with them. I wonder how well the wire holds up when exposed to moisture? I imagine that a plastic barrier between them and the soil would prolong their life.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
For erosion control, they might use galvanized mesh to extend their life.

For plastic, you would probably have to use something that was really heavy-duty, as I'm thinking that the building of them would cause some shifting and wear the wire against the plastic, creating perforations.

You wouldn't want just rocks for a basement, would you?  Heavy rain and you would have an indoor, subfloor swimming pool... eventually self-draining... one would hope.

Sue
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
well they sure couldn't stand alone as a barrier. if the "basement" was built on a gravel base with french drains it would come close though. really I think that in any good basement the direction of water is not altered much by the actual walls. water should drain before it reaches the wall. should be in a place to minimize run off  for sure.  I was hoping the plastic would work good enough. I'm picturing a walk out basment. water is a very valid concern though. it would be a while before i would attempt anything. I'm thinking that as a dig shale out of the side of a hill I could be filling the baskets up to use as a retaining wall. i'll just tuck this away for my brain to gnaw on occasionally. along with all the other bones of my past ideas
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
we closed on our house and I am ressurecting this idea. there is a steep drop off just on the south side of the house off the drive. and after walking deep into the property we found large pockets of rock rock rock. A a storm/bomb/fallout shelter is something important to me, especially considering I am in  tornado alley still and not far from an airport that the the air national guard likes to use. rock adds significant mass to the exterior in addition to any dirt that would be surrounding it. It will be readily available and although alot of work, possible to do with one person over time. (since I am the only nutcase in my family I don't expect any help).

I am inviting any and all ideas to help work out the details. a roof is something I haven't resolved. I'm leaning towards a concrete cap but have considered and igloo shape and simply burying timbers.
Dave Boehnlein


Joined: Jun 10, 2007
Posts: 291
Location: Orcas Island, WA
    
    2
At the Solar Living Center in Hopland, CA they had a flood a few years back that wiped out their intern encampment. When they were re-building it part of the mission was to put up a strawbale wall along the highway to block traffic noise and provide privacy. Instead of putting the strawbales right on the ground they put them on gabions. That way water could pass underneath in a flood event and the strawbales would stay dry. Pretty cool, huh? I wonder if they could be used more extensively as foundations in warm, flood prone places.


[Thumbnail for wall_on_gabions.jpg]



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Joined: Apr 09, 2009
Posts: 12
Location: California
I found this picture on the Gabionbaskets.net website.  It's basically a building sans roof.

Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 965
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
A lot of the old houses in New England have dry-stone cellars.  The old house I lived in there had one (my ex still lives in it).  I don't know how they moved some of those big boulders -- probably with a team of oxen, since the house was built before the Civil War.  Gabions would be a lot easier!

The cellar of that house gets a little damp in the spring when the snow is melting; since the floor is dirt in most of the cellar, this isn't a major big deal and would actually be beneficial in a root cellar.  The other issue was that the rocks provided great hiding places for bugs and spiders (my daughters used to take a broom with them when I sent them down-cellar to get something, so they could sweep the cobwebs out of the way), and also for rodents.  We had a rat-hole going right through the stone wall for a while; put out bait since obviously the cat wasn't sufficient deterrent, and got rid of them that way.  I would suggest, if you use gabions for building a tornado shelter -- and I think it's a really good idea -- plaster the inside walls so there aren't all the nooks and crannies for things to hide in!

Kathleen
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
awesome pics suburban man! I knew it could be done!
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
That is a great idea for a tornado shelter!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I want to use them for a tornado shelter, earth sheltered  greenhouse half subbed two story barn. now I just have to come up with a design that combines all those things... and the hard part....money and time. 
                    


Joined: Feb 13, 2009
Posts: 36
i hate too pour cold water on a good idea, but check that the shale you are using does not off gas radon!  is a problem with shale formations here! http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Publications/PIC/pic25.html
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
we are supposed to be in a low radon risk area but I'm sure that doesn't tell the whole story. whatever I build with them will either be well ventilated (one wall in a double decker barn or green house) or seldom/temporarily  used (tornado shelter) I think I am going with a hybrid idea now. there are tons of these things pictured below around here. they are just stock panels in a circle and filled with the rocks that people pluck off their property. they are often used for corner posts or just to have a place to put the rocks!  I could cut into my hill, place several stock panels in place and start throwing rocks in them.  I certainly have enough of those 

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I can't see the objects in the photo clearly, but I am assuming they are circles of welded wire fencing filled with rocks.  I see quite a few of them here, too.

You can name your place "Rock-chester".

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14828
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
It does seem that if you collect them like that, eventually you might come up with another use for them and then you have them in a convenient place.

I think near one of those would be a great place to plant a tree that likes water, because when the air passes through those stones, the inner stones are gonna be a lot colder and water will condense on them and drip down.

                      


Joined: Jan 28, 2010
Posts: 1
I'm new to the forum, I am actually building a small root cellar , the soil type is sand and I am using Gabion Baskets as the wall retainers. Well yes and no, the most current name for what I am using is Hesco boxes(  Hesco is a copyrighted name, so I will refer to them as gabions),  homemade versions of course. I have made two 10ft wall sections, 2ft wide 4ft tall, they took me about 2 hours to construct each, and cost roughly $60 worth of material to build. Currently one wall section is 90% full and that baby is not moving at all, in fact I would say as a wall retainer its overkill for my small cellar 10ft by 10ft.
I will post pics soon, just wanted to toss the idea out there since I found the thread. Oh btw on the link I posted you will find several applications for the boxes, from civil to military, I love the fact that the boxes can be used for a host of projects, the only thing I am not sure about is the load bearing characteristics of the wall, will they in fact hold a roof?

http://www.hesco.com
                                          


Joined: Jan 16, 2010
Posts: 46
For a tornado shelter, I would probably just use the slipform method of making the form, filling with rocks, and pouring in cement to fill in around the rocks.  I am sure the gabion baskets could make secure walls, but I would not want the wind to be able to get through it.  You could make some really strong walls that still utilized the native stone, used a lot less concrete, and would make a monolithic structure that would never blow away.  Of course, a PSP structure would also work for a storm shelter, considering the posts are buried and the structure is covered with earth.  I don't think I'd care for an above ground house in tornado country...
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Cool thread, gabions have all kinds of uses it seems.

A lot of the old houses in New England have dry-stone cellars.  The old house I lived in there had one (my ex still lives in it).  I don't know how they moved some of those big boulders -- probably with a team of oxen, since the house was built before the Civil War.


I've read that the moving of large objects was saved for late winter, when they could be slid on hard packed snow much more easily than dragged on the dirt.  Still would require oxen, I'm sure. 

At Lost Valley Education Center in Oregon I've seen gabions placed in streams with a willow or alder planted in them.  Adds habitat for fish,  and gives the tree a chance to take hold before it gets washed away. 
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
The Dominus winery is built of gabions:

http://www.dominusestate.com/architecture.html


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Joined: Dec 25, 2010
Posts: 5
what a great idea...but I wonder if the only strength you have is in the  wire...if it rusts or weakens will the walls crumble....definitly an interesting idea
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
There is a similar technology, but called Rapid Deployment Flood Walls.  They are plastic, and designed to be filled with dirt or sand.

I have often wondered about building something using the gabion or RDFW concept.  In the end, I keep coming back to something like earthbags, which seem to be a faster and longer-lived method for homes.


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Joined: Jan 01, 2011
Posts: 2
Hello Everyone, I am the owner of Midwest Construction Products    I will leave you with this picture. It is from a gabion job we did in Alabama on Lewis Lake. 


[Thumbnail for Capt John, 001.jpg]

milkwood. kirsten


Joined: May 05, 2011
Posts: 13
Location: Milkwood Farm, Mudgee NSW Australia
We recently made a gabion wall to hold out hillside up. really happy with it. love the technique.



And a blogpost on the build, if anyone would like to see:

http://milkwood.net/2011/05/06/rock-science-building-our-gabion-wall


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Joined: May 12, 2011
Posts: 5
Very interesting - think of all the different substances you could fill your wire with - shredded rubber, stones, glass bottles, wood pieces, etc. Then, put forms around it, and pore portland cement in there maybe? Or even papercrete? Then spray the interior with something you can layer to prevent interior degassing - or cob it....similar to how you would do with an earthship. It could be very very interesting....
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
anyone know how to make the gabion baskets?  Like what are the minimum requirements ( I assume chicken wire won't work)?
                                    


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 1
Ive been looking into alternative ways to make a swimming pool... it seems to me that instead of all the concrete and rebar and braces, gabions would work to hold back the soil... especially if the pool had sloping sides and was an oval or round shape. The gabions would be placed in the dug out dirt, then the baskets could be plastered and waterproofed....

Im also thinking about using gabions for load bearing columns in a shop construction project where 1 foot of a galvanized steel post would be buried in cement and the basket would be built around the pole on top of the ground. The pole would be tied with wire to each of the corners of the basket and then filled with rock and the top closed down around the pole.

For the same shop I am thinking about building it with hay bales. The gabions would be the foundation above ground and each gabion would have rebar in each corner that was buried in concrete underneath for about a foot down with a wire mesh footer. the rebar would come up out of the top of the gabions where straw bale would be laid in between each rebar and tied to the rebar with chicken wire for plastering.....

I just love gabions! They seem very versital to me, though I would be hesitant to make the baskets any taller then they are wide for vertical stacking.
Stonewall Greyfox


Joined: Apr 13, 2011
Posts: 13
It's engineering...very effective, and heavily promoted for siege fortifications for centuries.  For historic images of effective use of Gabions search on the images section on the Library of Congress for Petersburg.  Historic materials for gabions were saplings and vinage (grape vines work excellently).  These interwoven baskets would then be filled with earth to construct ramparts.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/3996064756/

The modern military uses what's called a Hesco Barrier which is essentially the same as what's seen above.  A wire/mesh basket filled with stone.

http://www.google.com/search?q=hesco+barriers&hl=en&biw=1381&bih=686&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=1HrmTeCuLsjg0QGjo5WCCw&sqi=2&ved=0CDEQsAQ

Paul B.
peter mukunda


Joined: Nov 27, 2010
Posts: 109
I saw a design for a straw bale wall house built on gabions.  They used tires filled with rubble or rock.  The good thing is tires are free and they don't rust.  Perhaps they would last a few centuries. (?)

I forget the exact design.  I think they first dug down to clay, then had several tires stacked on top of each other.  Rock was rammed into each tire.  Presumably they did this one tire layer at a time.

I think they had these gabions at the corners of the house and also at intervals, spanned by strong beams.  This was the base for the straw ball walls.  I guess you could go continuous with the gabions, too, like right beside each other, all the way around the house.
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 230
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    5
It is a couple of years since this thread began.  Have you built your gabion tornado shelter?  How did it work?

I have a small canyon above me that makes a flash flood about once every 25 years.  Before the next one I want to have gabions in place.  I thinnk they would bounce the road noise pretty well too.  In the desert, we sometimes have wind storms that blow dirt around.  I alwaus thought the gabions would trap some of that dirt out of the air and would sort of fill in their own interior air spaces, and become even more immoveables.  People use them for fence posts around here


Until I found this thread, I never realized how much potential they have.  I like the strawbale wall on top of the gabions.  I want to try that for my flood and noise wall.  It will block the headlights too. 

Lastly, since a high rent neighborhood has grown around me in the 24 years, I always like to put some beautiful "alternative" structures out for all to see.  I look on it as public education.
 
 
subject: gabion baskets
 
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