Dhajji Dewari is a construction method that uses timber framing and stone and cob infill. It is a traditional method used in Pakistan and Kashmir and has been found to survive earthquakes very well (Californians take note ) This could be a great way to use stone you have on your property particularly if you also have clay.
If you google images of Dhajji Dewari you will quickly get and idea of the method Dhajji Dewari
This is really a great method, of several you will find on these linked photos, including the Kath Kuni, Bhatar, et al., which speaks to the thousands of already existing methods in "natural building" that are being overlooked to try and "reinvent wheels" of construction... instead of using the ones that have already been around for a very long, long time to good effect. This method is a "stone version" of Eastern Europe's "Kubbhus" styles of building which is what "cord wood architecture" really is and nothing new at all.
If those interested delve into this method you will note a friend and colleagues web page...Traditional is Modern. One of the best web pages of its types in on the net and highly recommended reading! Dr. Langenbach knowledge of these vernacular forms is instrumental in rebuilding...properly...many of these regions archetype forms of vernacular buildings that are way more germane to this tectonic active region than concrete and steel ever could hope to be...
Thanks again Alan for posting this conversation and wonderful vernacular form of architecture!
I don't think we even have to assume no earthquakes...
Considering some Kath Kuni and Bhatar have been dated at over 800 years, and this entire region is just now "starting" to see some reasonable academic examination of vernacular archetypes, I am confident that these circa dates will be vetted as not only accurate but even older examples will be found. When the British and other Europeans "moved in" (invaded?) any region, they brought a level of "social arrogance" that not only dominated the indigenous culture most often within a given region, they "tried" to instill all aspects of European culture...including...the architectural styles. This is still going on today, and with the recent earth quakes in Nepal we can see what happens when an indigenous modality is adulterated with modern materials, and/or loss of knowledge in traditional means, methods and materials.
Some of these original structures have not only endured Richter 7 tectonic events...they have tolerated several of them with little more that repairable cosmetic damage, and when the events are more severe or chronic, they still endure and can be repaired completely...unlike modern concrete and steel examples which must be rebuilt completely (all to the benefit of industrial cultures that feed on such inefficiencies.)
So, even if built in the most simplistic fashions, on solid traditional foundations one could expect at minimum 10 generations of use if not more, unless struck by a cataclysmic natural event, which always is devastating to the "built environment" to some degree.
To inject some non traditional ideas, I was wondering if modern wire gabions could replace the wooden framing for those people who don't have access to affordable timber?
Nepal has real deforestation issues and given their immediate housing issues this could be an affordable alternative. Similarly buying commercial timber to build frames in the west is not a cheap proposition so gabions filled with local stone (or building rubble) & cob would be a cheap method of construction.
I think you raise some valid questions, yet "importing" literally thousands of metric tons of plastic coated wire to alleviate the housing needs of this region of Asia's needs I am not sure is a solution. I see, have seen, applicable applications of gabion technology in erosion control, even with traditional gabion baskets of bamboo, and here the modality does seem to excel in "some applications". Perhaps even as foundation building methods has some limited relevance, yet again this continues to breed a culture of "dependence" on none vernacular and outside solutions.
Nepal's forest management issues are of its own making for the most part, breed from too much outside acculturation, and only exacerbated by an economy that has become too tourist (outsider) influenced with "solutions." Over grazing, poor agricultural habits, poor fire wood forestry management practices, more firewood production to meet the needs of more "outsiders" traveling to the region, all contribute greatly to this issue...virtually creating a cascade effect that is out of control in some areas. Nepal still has forest. It even has forest that could yield appropriate building timber for the needs of many more than it is serving. When the Nepalese Forestry Management Governmental offices are spending money and resources on documents explaining "basic wood drying methods" that are so parochial, outdated and poorly written, there is little wonder that the country is struggling in proper forest management methods and at the same time loosing vernacular architecture and the knowledge to build it.
I sit here in Vermont and could very well hold more vernacular knowledge about indigenous wood working methods of this region than anyone in there own government. That isn't meant or presented to be a grandiose statement, but a stark reality of how poorly managed and understood the situation there is. The current Nepalese government is doing little to effectively document what "knowledge holders" they have. Much of this is being done by outsiders like myself, Dr. Langebach, and many in the Historic Architecture and Anthropology departments of Indian Universities.
All in all, there are some huge issues and I am not certain if gabion (or any heavy dependence on them) is a solution. It strikes me more as a dirty band-aid on a festering wound that needs to be cleaned, debride and re-dressed. This should be done from within the culture with proper methodology already still inherent in it... if it was better managed. Only tine will tell if they actually can get things organized for themselves, as I see it, outsiders are only muddling the water with external solutions. I don't see NGOs and related actually helping in many ways. I am fairly confident that relying on "import" materials (especially heavily industrialized ones) probably isn't the best solution. Having a reasonably deep understanding of not only "gabion systems" but many vernacular timber related ones, I am not sure even in the west if gabion use much past foundation work and erosion control is ever the best way to build, or the most efficient of resources both fiscal, physical or mental.
Are gabions earthquake proof(or resistant)? I have seen them being used as retaining walls on highway cuts to prevent falling rocks. I just never considered them in an earthquake context. It seems like they would flex ok, and not fly apart. But this is one of those things where it is also entirely possible that all the wires snap and it could send the entire hillside down. So I was wondering if anyone knows?
When done..."PROPERLY"...they are very tectonically stable...issue is...many (most??) aren't and they do fail catastrophically just as you imagined Bill...I like them...I am not sure they are for the average DIYer per se.
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