Rubble Bag Houses

| 1/19/2011 12:41:58 AM

Tags: earthbag, earthbag building, earthbag construction, sand bag, rubble bag, rubble-filled bag, gravel bag, concrete rubble, rubble trench, rubble, Haiti, reconstruction, rebuilding, affordable housing, sustainable housing, low cost housing, earthquake, earthquake resistant, seismic resistant, housing, homes, green, sustainable, affordable, Owen Geiger,

 The Kay Hybrid houses combines rubble bags with lightweight framing 

The Kay Hybrid combines the best features of two building systems: rubble-filled bags up to windowsill height and a lightweight frame above made with whatever is most practical. 

Earthbag building is extremely adaptable. Bags or tubes can be filled with various materials and stacked like large building blocks. Among the various fill materials that can be used is concrete rubble from collapsed buildings. This concept has great potential for places such as Haiti that is currently overwhelmed with rubble.

There is a tremendous amount of rubble available -- so much that it is blocking roads and hindering reconstruction. Instead of trucking the rubble away and disposing of it, why not use it to build affordable housing? Utilizing this abundant local resource would cut building costs, save transport, and create jobs by turning a waste product that’s in the way into much needed housing. (One year after the quake, over one million people are still homeless.)

Up until now, this rubble has primarily been used for rubble trench foundations, gabions and road construction. It has not been recommended for earthbags because sharp edges on the rubble could cut the bags. But after studying images on the Internet I’m convinced the rubble could be screened to 1” minus and used as bag fill. This is do-able because much of the concrete in Haiti was pulverized in the earthquake. Although this idea is experimental, and since I’m not Haiti, I would like to explore this possibility with someone who’s building there.

Suggested method for making rubble bags (subject to further tests):
- Search for piles near the building site that contain mostly pulverized rubble.
- Separate large pieces of rubble and save for other uses (urbancrete, mortared rubble walls, paths).
- Screen remaining rubble down to about 1”.
- Use screened material to make rubble bag foundations for lower courses until you’re above the level where moisture will cause problems. Be careful not to overtamp and tear the bags. Only light tamping is needed to settle the contents. And always double-bag foundation courses – one bag inside the other – for added strength.
- Use typical soil-filled bags for remainder of walls for increased stability or build a lightweight wall system above windowsill height.

Plumber Plano Tx
1/25/2011 9:07:30 AM

Rubble filled walls are an interesting (and creative) way to minimize building costs. Whether it's rubble, gravel or the excavated earth from the leveling of the floor area, this is an inexpensive way to get the base walls established.

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