Dry stone walling becomes more structuredPublished 10/5 at 14:35
At the end of 2017, UNESCO confirmed how valuable the art of drystone walling is, adding the building technique to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, to protect and safeguard it.
Among the reasons for recognising and protecting the construction method is its vital role in preventing landslides and floods, fighting soil erosion and desertification while respecting the environment. By adding the process to the list, eight European countries can share techniques as while the methods might differ, they all involve the placing of one stone on top of the other without using any other material except dry earth.
Even the most successful techniques have incorporated more modern methods, often through the use of equipment to aid artisans in their work enabling the finishing of the job faster and providing enhanced precision. One such piece of equipment is the ‘MB-G’ sorting grapples that have claws that grab, move and arrange rocks or stones of various types and sizes, with extreme precision and accuracy. On three different construction sites located in France, Germany and Slovenia, the MB-G was used to help build dry stone walls as the grapple’s inclined plate enabled a broader range of actions whilst placing the stones precisely. This would have been impossible with tools, such as a digging bucket, and, it has the capability to install a multipurpose blade kit, which helps facilitate the grip of the unit controlling materials with a variety of weights and shapes.
The reinforced soil technique can be considered an evolution of the dry stone wall process, being a naturalistic engineering solution that allows the replacing of concrete walls with structures that have a reduced environmental impact. Using dry stone walling means that local materials can be used as fill, which has a natural appearance and better adapts to the ground's movements and is easy to install and maintain. In Venice, a company was commissioned to build a reinforced soil retaining wall to replace an existing wall made of concrete masonry.
Sonia, the Venetian company's geo-technician, explains how they solved their waste material handling and the manoeuvring space limitation problems: “To do the job, we relied on MB Crusher equipment during the crushing and screening stages. We saved on the costs of purchasing material by crushing the stones we recovered when we screened the soil, which we would have had to dispose of otherwise and pay substantial costs to obtain the stone that we used as drainage material. On the other hand, we reused the screened soil immediately to fill the formworks. I thank MB Crusher for the advice that allowed us to make money by saving time and reducing our expenses, all while respecting the environment.”