Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Earthquake-Safe Homes in a Post-Apocalyptic World?

Earthquakes in the news helped me determine the subject of this week's post.

In my post-apocalyptic novels (the Obliterated series on Amazon), a small band of survivors travel to an area they hope will be safer from the ravages of earth changes. Quakes and tremors are happening at least weekly by the third and final book. This means survivors in the non-electrified world must invent a method of building homes to withstand a lot of shaking.

My own thought process began with how "safer" buildings are erected these days: often the foundation is on a platform that has "shiftable" supports. Basically, the foundation can flex with the movement of the earth.

I thought the survivors' small homes must be:

  • flexible to withstand shaking, 
  • not underground for danger of being buried,
  • without heavy materials that could fall and injure/kill,
  • able to be built with hand tools only,
  • yet water- and wind-proof.

My first choice (of a few ideas tossed around in the book) was to use the building blocks used in "earthships" -- those wonderfully engineered and quirky environmental wonders.

The main walls for earthships are made from recycled tires rammed with earth. Earthships are then over-covered with dirt to be partially underground, but my characters would not want that for fear of being buried.

So, they come up with a plan in the second book to build small circular homes. They will wire together tires (with heavy-duty wire or cable), stake the bottom row, fill each with rammed earth and then build up the walls layer by layer. Each layer is also cabled to the one below. Gaps in two offset rows that make up the circle of tires would be chinked with adobe or other natural materials. The roof would be any lightweight sheet of material they could scavenge. The inside floor would be dug out a few feet so fewer tires would be needed.

The hut's foundation would not flex but the walls would. The old "willows bend and oaks break" theory. These would not be pretty structures but should provide thick-walled, protective shelter. In a hand-made new world fraught with earthquakes, what would you build?

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