Earth-based Materials

Practical Engineering. 2016. Sand Castle Holds Up A Car! Mechanically Stabilized Earth. Video. Retrieved from

This video provides a quick introduction to the concept of reinforced, or 'Mechanically Stabilised Earth', along with a couple of simple practical demonstrations of its load-bearing capacity.

Using fabric from an old t-shirt, an 8“ cube of sand is able to support the weight of the presenter; using 9 or 10 squares of fibreglass window screens, an 8” cube was able to support an approx. 250kg load with only negligible deformation. Under dynamic stress, the window screen-stabilised cube survived the impact of an 9kg dumbbell dropped from approx. 2m without too much damage.

In the context of earth-integrated construction with non-trivial thickness of living roofs, and given how deep the roots of common grasses can grow given the right kind of soil, can a compost-tea 'reticulation system' be used to apply — and accelerate — (a) the 'colonisation' of the roof layer with fungal hyphae that provides a kind of 'fibre reinforcement'; and (b) the development, on the macro-scale, of a rich web of roots to further stabilise the roof and protect it against heavier rains and the erosion which might otherwise occur?

  • Last modified: 2022-03-20 06:04
  • by Peter