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Alternative Building Materials


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From another discussion board, a member asked:

"Has anybody read or come across different technologies in the construction field? For example, high stress plastics or composites that can be efficiently and effectively used in construction ala Fresco concepts?

I have seen the dome shaped houses constructed using fiber-concrete mix over wire mesh, some rammed earth construction, construction using hay, earth bermed homes and SIP construction. So far, I have not seen anything that can be used in mass production or robot construction of residential structures."

If anybody could supply info, links, personal knowledge etc., I'd appreciate it! I'd like to report back to that board.

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I've heard about that denim stuff. I wonder how it's different from cellulose (aka shredded news papers). I had cellulose in my house and when I opened up one of the walls I found it had settled (compacted) to about 1/2 it's original. So the tops of my walls were uninsulated and the bottoms were probably only R-7. I also found that various insects found ways to make use of the cellulose.l I tore it all out and replaced it with fiberglass.

The coolest alternative construction technique I've seen can be found in Christopher Alexander's book _A Pattern Language_. He has the homeowner place poles to identify the rooms, and then the buildings are built up using layers. It's a nifty idea, but I don't know if anyone's actually used it on a wide scale. One of the advantages is that it doesn't require measurement.

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New Flexible Concrete for Rebuilding of New Orleans

Most of the I-10 Freeway corridor in Louisiana was a disaster in itself before Hurricane Katrina. The road is scalloped and very difficult to drive on, especially for trucks, which use I-10 as a major distribution channel to deliver America the goods. As we repair and replace sections of I-10, bridges, levees, streets, etc we should take a look at some of these new flexible concrete materials which a 500 times more resistant to cracking, 40% lighter and could help in the bumpy road issues, which destroy equipment and cause dangerous safety issues for traffic. There have been lots of roadway tests and the new flexible concrete has withstood the challenge.

I propose some departure from previous thinking and use some of these space age type materials in the rebuilding of our new New Orleans. By using some of these new materials on a large project we may get an incredible economies of scale to assist us with costs. Now for many things this flexible concrete may not be desired, yet for other projects it will be considered to be from heaven? Another technology is inflatable concrete, which might be worthy as a back up against future levee breaks? Using flexible concrete with inflatable concrete back up we will have a system which can act more like a portable swimming pool in your back yard, able to give a little. This way when Big Overweight Katrina does a belly flop into the pool it will flex a little extra with the waves?


We need to be thinking of our advances in materials and our present period technologies, because this is not 1965 when much of the 350-mile levee system was build and re-enforced. Please think on this.

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