Jacketing, gabions and more
Stone masonry is a thing of the past. Is it ? Mankind used to build with stone for millennia because it's a locally available material. For this very reason people in many parts of the world still use it: being available locally makes it often cheaper than modern building materials that have to be transported from afar.
In richer parts of the world where building materials are cheap but the workforce expensive stone masonry has become a luxury. But its durability and esthetics make it a material of choice for buildings that should last. When used smartly stone masonry doesn't have to be that expensive, as demonstrated by arch. Perraudin.
Jacketing walls by adding a wire mesh on both sides is a way of adding coherence and tensile strength to the masonry. It is frequently used to strengthen existing stone or brick masonry walls. In retrofitting work jacketing is also employed to repair or strengthen reinforced concrete elements such as columns or beams.
Jacketing adobe buildings with a polymer wire mesh has given excellent results when applied together with mud mortar. This method is particularly interesting when used during the construction phase rather than being applied later on.
Gabion walls are made of galvanized wire baskets filled with stones. Gabions mostly used for retaining walls. However, architects have used them for design purposes, sometimes even with an seismic function.
In order to resist in time gabions must a) be made with galvanized steel wire with the correct strength and thickness, b) have the right size (not too long) and c) be filled in with carefully placed stone (not just thrown in).
Construire en mur de pierres confinées: Améliorer l'habitat des populations fragiles au Maroc, par Architecture et Développement (Association de solidarité internationale). Voir aussi la vidéo.
Comment by tom: Good against earthquakes, but cheap enough for poor communities?
on retaining walls
Pure dry stone retaining walls, as they have been made for centuries, are rarely built these days. At most, the front part is built with stone while the back towards the earth is cast in reinforced concrete. Much century-old know-how been lost. Retaining walls are inherently dangerous and should be calculated by a civil engineer.
However, for low walls basic know-how and good reasoning may be sufficient. Architects, nobody expects you to understand the calculations in the following documents. But please study the illustrations, they already offer good explanations.
on stone masonry in general
Here a small collection of documents that came handy when working on stone masonry. The field manual by the Joint Research Centre of the European commission offers an excellent classification of various types of stone
masonry (from page 27 onward). The tutorial by Bothara and Brzev provides an overview of stone masonry from many parts of the world and gives some useful notions on retrofitting in chapter 4.