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How GRAVITI®BLOCK Can Provide Better Performance and Longer Life Than Gabion Retaining Walls

Gabions, or gabion retaining walls, are frequently used in Australia for a range of different purposes—from civil engineering to residential landscaping. However, while gabions may be common, they are far from the most efficient type of retaining wall structure. On the contrary, gabions retaining walls have a number of major disadvantages that can be solved or eliminated by switching to an alternative retaining wall structure.

What Are Gabions

The word ‘gabion’ has an Italian etymology, with the original word (‘gabbione’) meaning ‘big cage.’ As such, gabion baskets are essentially big wire baskets that have been hand-packed with rocks. These baskets are then tied or linked together, to formulate a larger whole that can feasibly serve as a retaining wall structure.

Over the years, gabion retaining walls have gradually become what is viewed as the ‘industry standard’ in many parts of Australia. Indeed, many major civil councils throughout the country—including RMS (Roads and Maritime Services), the roads authority in New South Wales—have embraced gabions as their retaining wall standard. This civil usage creates a trickledown effect, where engineers and project designers from a wide array of industries are taught to think gabions whenever they need a Gravity retaining structure.

The Disadvantages of Gabion Retaining Walls

Unfortunately, there are numerous disadvantages with gabions that make them a less-than-optimal option for retaining structures of any kind. These drawbacks include the following problems:

  • Rust: Typically, gabion wire baskets are either plastic-coated or galvanized steel. Particularly near the coast and when in contact with water, these wire baskets tend to rust and deteriorate. As a result, gabion retaining walls may need to be replaced more frequently than other types of Gravity retaining structures.
  • Flammability: We don’t typically think of a retaining structure that is made of rocks or concrete as something that could be flammable. However, gabion baskets can be destroyed or have their plastic coating melted by bush fires. Sometimes, the damage from a fire would be bad enough to necessitate an instant replacement, to avoid major problems with structural integrity. At best, the baskets would become more susceptible to rust, with their lifespans dipping as a result.
  • Time-Consuming Construction: Because gabions have to be constructed by hand-packing rocks carefully into wire baskets, they are far from efficient to make.

Because of these issues—as well as many serious Occupational Health and Safety concerns—RMS and other councils and contractors are now turning away from gabion retaining walls. At Gravity Wall Systems, we believe we have a superior alternative. Our trademark GRAVITI®BLOCK is a porous concrete gabion replacement that, unlike gabions, can withstand fire and other harsh environments. GRAVITI®BLOCK does not rust or rot, meaning that it also does not deteriorate like gabions can. In fact, our engineers have tested GRAVITI®BLOCK and determined that the concrete design boasts an impressive 100-year design life. Compared to the easily damaged nature of gabion retaining walls, GRAVITI®BLOCK provides a much more dependable alternative for all Gravity retaining structures.

If you work with a State Road Authority or State Council or are employed as a civil engineer, a project planner or a project designer, we want to hear from you! Call Gravity Wall Systems and learn more about GRAVITI®BLOCK today! Be sure to ask for our Technical tests Document You can reach us on 0414 382 921.