Gabion baskets were invented more than one century ago, but are being rediscovered today for many infrastructure and architectural projects
Gabions are sustainable, whereas concrete structures can have a high carbon footprint. They are typcially used to form flexible, permeable and monolithic structures and are aesthetically pleasing therefore can be used where concrete is not mandatory. It is why gabions remain applicable in modern construction.
Designing a retaining wall can cause many headaches. How to design it? Which materials are better to use? What are the aesthetic and environmental impacts?
We will argue that there is an easy and effective answer to all these questions: gabions. For many reasons, spanning from aesthetics to engineering, and from sustainability to architectural trends, the gabion wall really can present many advantages, combining different features that largely overcome the benefits of other “traditional” solutions such as concrete or piles.
Advantages of gabions can include;
1) Sustainable – Carbon footprint analyses show that the use of a gabion solution can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to a concrete retaining wall of the same height. If allowed to grow, vegetation can establish within a gabion wall, which can further contribute to carbon sequestration of the solution.
2) Beautiful at a glance – Aesthetics are important. Large unsubtle concrete structures are unnecessary, as gabion walls contribute an element of prestige to your infrastructure. Classic concrete walls or retaining walls are monolithic, while gabion retaining wall blocks, filled with local material, are more in sympathy with their surroundings. Gabion structures can also be designed so that re-vegetation takes place when plants colonise the interstitial spaces between the rock fill, thus returning the solution to nature. We could say that gabions are a way to secure nature with itself!
3) Budget friendly – Historically, in order to build beautiful infrastructure, great investments were necessary. Things are a little different with gabions, as their inherent nature reduces transportation and the overall retaining wall cost. But just tagging gabions as a low-cost solution would be unfair. Gabions are a high value-added product as their return is unmeasurable if you take into account variables such as environmental and aesthetical achievements.
4) Smart and flexible – Who says that gabions are only a rural solution? Many modern buildings and infrastructure being designed or updated today are making use of gabions in order to renew their look and meet the demands of sustainability. Gabion solutions constitute an architectural lever when it comes to landscaping and urban design.
5) Scalable – Even if the baseline technology remains the same, the wire-mesh of each retaining wall block can be adapted to different needs. Gabions structures, furthermore, are perfectly scalable as they can be used for massive structures but also for small-scale constructions.
For more information about the Maccaferri Gabion, please contact us!