A cool cave for the caveless



Having just come through the NE floods of 2011, gabions came to mind for a winery, not origional, big famous one on the west coast.


However, it's using Stainless Steel mesh, ekkkkk, expensive, and it's alot drier out there.


I see problems using gabions in buildings, as well potential:



Low cost

Local materials

Low skilled labor

Little supervision needed

Longevity, to say the least

High mass for thermal dampening

As close to a cave as you're going to get



Mesh rusts, structure fails

Animals, insects, reptiles, and mold colonizing rock matrix

You don't just dump rock into a gabion basket with big old payloader

First you sort out the flat faced rock, then you manually place it against the faces

Then you carefully load rock in making sure the outer facing remains intact as rock is dumped in

Overall, gabions are cheaper than reinforced concrete walls, but are not cheap

Finally, a HUGE foundation below frost line to hold it all up



4 inch foam inside gabion baskets and held off exterior surface = insulates and allows machine dumping of rock, gravel, and if the budget allows, pumping concrete into the gabion baskets.

1 inch mesh performing the same task for the inner gabion basket surface

Rebare wired to gabion baskets creating a huge above grade beam

Frost proof shallow foundation (FPSF) cuts footing to a thick slab

Shotcrete for inside and outside faces protect wire


Clients Program:

They are a start up, money is tight, the future unknown.

A building that is as cheap as a pre-fab metal barn, which eliminates most standard construction.


Architecural / Program issues for the client to consider:

Image, Image, Image 

It's a world of imagery,

A steel barn wont't impress customers

A steel barn dosen't set them apart from competition

Work enviornment - a steel barn dosen't cut it, a start up is tough enough, don't need to burden it with a dull enviornment.

Thermals should emulate the ideal for a winery, a cave, not a metal garage that no matter how insulated, is going to inheritently be fighting thermal swing all the time.