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What do you think about making a wofati/Oehler structure with Earthbags

 
Cortney Haley
Posts: 4
Location: Glouster, Ohio
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Howdy!

So, I have been researching alternative building techniques for a long time. I've been all around the world in my mind and on my computer trying to figure out what will work in my area. What I keep coming back to is the wofati. Here's my dilemna...the trees on the land where I live aren't very large. I am a provisional member of an intentional living community and our land was once a hilly pasture (as was most of the land in my area). Since buying the land in the 90's, the community has let the trees grow back but there are a lot of scraggly looking trees around, not a lot that would be usable for a wofati I think. Anyway, that brings me around to my question. Could one use a combination of a wofati design with an earthbag structure...earth integrated? I recognize that I would likely need to use posts in some areas but it seems it would really cut down the amount of wood needed for the walls if I could do earthbags around the perimeter and then posts in the middle of the structure for roof support. Another idea for posts I saw was this...http://www.visualnews.com/2011/11/16/plastic-bottles-20-times-stronger-than-bricks/#more-26855...recycled soda bottles rammed with sand and then used as bricks (I am thinking like pillars that could support the roof).

One more...does anybody know of any round Oehler structures? Or round wofati?
 
Noah Cooper Harris
Posts: 4
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Hey Cortney, I built an Oehler house with tire walls, kind of a PSP/Earthship hybrid with a post and beam structure supporting the roof and tire walls everywhere the house is sub-grade.

I think earthbags would be possible on a very small structure but would have a lot of trouble retaining all the lateral thrust from the side hills on anything big enough to live in. Even the massively heavy and "stepped back" into the hill tire wall shifted slightly early in the build. Added some i-beams anchored into the hill with turnbuckles and 4x14" wood shoring slotted in and haven't had a problem since but it gives you some idea of the immense force at work.

All in all it ended up being a terrific marriage of building techniques though, I think there's nothing wrong with picking and choosing your favorite techniques and experimenting. Good luck with your plans, whatever route you choose!
 
Cortney Haley
Posts: 4
Location: Glouster, Ohio
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Thanks Noah! This helps a lot. Love the pics too. It looks like the area you had the trouble in has a pretty serious amount of earth behind it. Just a thought...could you have done a uphill patio on that side to alleviate some of the thrust? Or a side hill patio? The major advantage I see to Oehler's work is that it deals with some of the issues of the lateral thrust by using things like the uphill patio, side hill patio, and Royer foyer. Most of the weight of the earth is on the downhill side.
 
Noah Cooper Harris
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Definitely could have done a side hill patio on that side as well as the other but if you do too much to avoid the earth berming, at some point you just have a regular house

Finding the perfect hill can be difficult too when you have to take into account solar gain and staying on at least and approximate east/west axis.

Packing tires is horrible though to be honest, I've looked back many times and wondered if I could have gotten away with earthbags. Let me know if you find the answer to that question, or maybe I don't want to know haha. My feeling is that it would have to be a perfectly round structure to give earthbags enough strength which creates its own challenges in an Oehler concept.
 
Sarah Houlihan
Posts: 47
Location: Central Maine
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Noah, I don't see the pictures that Cortney mentioned. I would love to see them as I am thinking of doing something similar to this myself. I am new to this forum so I may just be confused, but I can't find any pics. Thanks!
 
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