“Gabion1 supplies gabions to Town Ball which uses Christchurch earthquake rubble and demolition bricks to fill the gabion baskets.”

An architect in Nepal told me recently that subsoil for earthbags is difficult to get in certain parts of Nepal. For this reason his architecture firm is planning to use gabions filled with local stone up to windowsill height and then use earthbags for the upper wall. This is an interesting option that might work in earthquake regions. A quick Internet search turned up numerous studies on earthquake tests and seismic properties of gabion walls. (Search phrase: gabion wall earthquake.) Adding opposing external rebar tied together through the wall to contain the gabions and earthbags may create a strong enough wall to withstand moderate earthquakes.

Note: some references do not recommend walls made entirely of gabions. (Example: Studio Wikitecture.) The recommendation I made above is based on half height gabions with earthbags above, all contained within external rebar with a reinforced concrete bond beam on top. One report at Springer.com said gabion walls could “bear earthquake action with seismic intensity of eight.” Variables include the gauge of wire used in the gabions, cement plaster vs. no plaster, wall height, roof load, etc. Obviously this is a new idea that needs to be studied in more depth.

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