Recommendations Dry Stone Walls, 2012

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Recommendations for the Planning, Construction and Maintenance of Dry Stone Walls


Edition 2012, DIN A4, pdf-file, 94 pages

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Artikelbeschreibung

The creation of dry stone walls is a centuries old craft. Dry stone walls, used as retaining walls for terracing slopes or as freestanding walls as boundary walls enclosing plots of land or pastures, form a major functional and visual part of many cultural landscapes in Europe. Dry stone walls have always played an important role as open space and garden objects. They have experienced a renaissance as ecologically significant design elements  in recent decades, particularly as a consequence of the natural garden movement. Landscape architects and landscape gardeners are increasingly tasked with the  manufacture and repair of dry stone walls, often related to landscape planning tasks such as the historic preservation of protected cultural landscapes. As a traditional and defining element they are mirrors of the natural environment, replacement habitats for numerous, many endangered, animal and plant species and are  typical regional cultural assets.

Professionally built dry stone walls provide buildings or supporting structures with numerous technical advantages; they are self-draining and relatively unaffected by frost action and movement in the soil. With their extremely low carbon footprint, they appear predestined to meet the challenges of climate change.

For centuries, the structural quality of dry stone walls was based on the knowledge of location and materials and the skills, of mostly anonymous builders, passed on  from generation to generation among the masons, farmers, shepherds and landowners. The knowledge and skills lost, especially in the last century, need to be recovered.  For this reason, various organizations throughout Europe, especially in the Mediterranean countries, Switzerland, or within the British Isles strive to revive this lost  nowledge. Existing study and demonstrative objects that have fulfilled their functions for centuries play an essential role. They can be used to trace back the codes of practice and proven construction methods.

The professional manufacture of dry stone walls requires a high degree of manual labour. Depending on the location, masonry bond and stone, a daily output of between  one and four square meters of wall area per specialist can be expected. Furthermore, the additional work involved in planning, transportation, and special tasks, such  as, corners or copings needs to be considered. Craft traditions and practical experience are equally as important as normative regulations. This is especially true for  the repair and improvement of existing, but also for the creation of new, dry stone walls in the course of garden and open space designs in landscaping. A lack of knowledge in the planning, specification and execution is often the reason for defects which may lead to a loss of function of the wall or even to its collapse.