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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
And a blogpost on the build, if anyone would like to see:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Abe Connally wrote:anyone know how to make the gabion baskets? Like what are the minimum requirements ( I assume chicken wire won't work)?
I'm used to seeing chainlink fence or something like it used near roadways in Oregon. That seems a little extreme for something smaller, more residential. My gut agrees with your statement about chicken wire. I want to try the 2x4 square fencing to see how it goes, perhaps lined internally with chicken wire.