Win a copy of The Tourist Trail this week in the Writing forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Dave Burton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Greg Martin

feasibility of a taller circular tower?

 
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi folks, this is my first post on this forum and I hope I could find an answer here. i realize information given via an online forum between random people isnt the same as good professional advice but ive got a design thats been in my head for years of a tower home which would end up either in the Appalachian mountains of N. Carolina, or possibly somewhere in Oregon.
 
Obviously the location would dictate a lot of what I can and cant do, but assuming I had the ideal soil composition, my idea is a tower about 15 feet in diameter and 35 feet tall, with walls three bags thick up to the 15 foot mark at which point they would drop to two bags thick, with bags bridging the two together and interspersed rebar stakes every few feet, using continuous bags for each layer. There would be floors every 12 feet adding what I assume would be some extra support. The kicker is, on top of that tower im looking to place a final wooden level, mostly for aesthetics and for a viewing platform, before finally adding the roof. I understand this is ambitious at best and asinine at worst but have had some issue finding much solid info online regarding what im looking to do and I figured I might find a few opinions from folks who know more than me about this building method and maybe be pointed in the right direction towards making this a reality or at least trying to.
 
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: NW Montana, USA
63
goat purity foraging rabbit chicken food preservation pig bee medical herbs solar ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anchor it to the ground REALLY WELL.  lol.  
That's a structure 3x higher than it is wide once you reach the peak.  Earth bags (assuming that's what you mean) are also going to be REALLY heavy.

Ambitious indeed!  It's possible it could be done safely, maybe, but I don't think I'd try it  Can you incorporate another structure onto it to give it some horizontal structural integrity?  
 
pollinator
Posts: 3040
Location: Toronto, Ontario
368
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The cross-section of one of the tallest free-standing structures in the world is a Y shape. Maybe if you altered the cross-section to include some natural buttressing, that will give you the lateral stability you'll otherwise lack.

Also, why a tower? I love them, too, but they're about as practical as a dome for most applications, which is to say, not at all.

Oh, and why earthbag as opposed to something more structurally sound like stabilised rammed earth or compressed earth block? Do you imagine it's easier to fill bags with dirt and tamp them full than it is to fill forms with dirt and then run a tamper over it, repeating as necessary?

-CK
 
Em Robinson
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
“Why a tower?” Well ive always just wanted to have a tower. Why earthbag? Mainly because its the building format im most familiar with that would possibly be sturdy enough to work with the vision ive got, in the location it would likely end up in, and still be reasonably affordable. In theory i could shorten the tower slightly or add buttresses, but forgot to mention im planning a room coming off from the base of the tower, i could revise that to three rooms branching off with three large buttresses rising most of the way up the tower if people thinks that would help things.
 
Posts: 31
Location: Eastern Washington
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know almost nothing about earth bags. If the bags decay in some way, will the wall still stand?

Towers are really cool, I'd like to build one. The ancient ones are solid stone, solid timber or a combination. Now days one could add some steel cables or laminated beams. I'd look for designs to copy elements from. These towers in Tibet have aged well. https://www.wmf.org/project/stone-towers-southwest-china
 
Em Robinson
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From my knowledge (which is admittedly largely theoretical) the bags should remain relatively ok as long as theyre kept covered away from UV and moisture damage usually accomplished by a layer of stucco or similar external layer. The soil conposition itself should ideally settle into a very strong material once tamped and set up.

Another idea ive thought of could just be making the base of the tower from solid concrete but that would require forms and be much more expensive
 
pollinator
Posts: 269
Location: Piedmont 7a
77
hugelkultur trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Em, you can have my tower!  ;).

https://permies.com/t/112716/fifty-foot-tall-climbing-tower
 
Posts: 208
Location: east and dfw texas
3
forest garden hunting trees chicken bee woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
pigeon cote they were built  somewhat similar at times  
 
Grady Houger
Posts: 31
Location: Eastern Washington
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Looking up pigeon cote towers as Jimmy Gallop suggested shows plenty of really tall old stone or mud brick structures. Looks like a three story size isn't unreasonable.
Personally I'd try to find an expert in earth bag work to answer your question. Here's a site with a neat tool that seems to indicate at least a two story earthbag structure is possible. They offer consulting services. http://terra-form.org/tools/earthbagdomecalc.html
 
Posts: 45
Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Why a tower?"  A few reasons come to mind.  If you are up that high and in the shade you can normally get a better air flow and be much more comfortable,  a lot of the flying insects won't go that high to bother you, and depending on where you live you can see a long way and the views can be incredible.  As for what to build it out of, I wouldn't want my advice so you probably don't either.  I was a welder so my first thought is always pipe or steel frame.  Your idea sounded feasible to me though.
 
jimmy gallop
Posts: 208
Location: east and dfw texas
3
forest garden hunting trees chicken bee woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
sounds of a castle they build them much taller don't see why not .
 
pollinator
Posts: 757
Location: 6a
204
hugelkultur dog forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Em,

You should check out Andrew Camarata's Youtube channel.  He built a house from shipping containers.  He has a tower.

His other vids are good too.

 
Em Robinson
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ive seen that video for the shipping container tower, and while i think its a very interesting idea and love some of the things made with them, im very much a slave to the more traditional aesthetics of a stuccoed earth or stone tower. I looked at some pigeon cote towers that are freestanding and seem to have withstood a lot, so im thinking with the offshooting rooms and buttresses around the base, and a good foundation what ive got in mind should work, and as it happens I usually way overengineer things because if its my own project then id rather it be more labor intensive yet rock solid than simpler and less so. Im trying to figure out a good way to make a model of the design ive got in mind just as a visual tool, so far im thinking of a recessed box to contain a model foundation or basement and then building a model from muslin tubes packed with dirt and assembled like a mini version of the real thing, just to nail down what my ideas are in a physical prototype rather than hypothetical drawings.
 
Don't MAKE me come back there with this tiny ad:
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!