Title:
Modular wall systems with integrated growth medium
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A geometrical structure includes a superstructure capable of maintaining its structural integrity when in contact with a similar structure, an integrated growth medium, and flora within said growth medium to grow out of the superstructure. The purpose of said geometrical structure is to facilitate the rapid assembly of walls, partitions and coverings when like geometrical structures are joined together either by placement adjacent to or by a fastening means or integrated interlocks. A combination of a plurality of such geometrical structure forms a modular construction system for walls, partitions and coverings that will grow the intended flora when water is introduced. The modular system is considered a replacement for conventional wood fences, block walls, poured concrete walls, steel partitions and erosion control systems. Further, the modular system can be easily manufactured using recycled materials from landfills and waste products.



Inventors:
Wilkman, Michael Allen (Alamo, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/381633
Publication Date:
09/24/2009
Filing Date:
03/14/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D5/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FIORELLO, BENJAMIN F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael Allen Wilkman (Alamo, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A structure ready for assembly containing: a growth medium capable of sustaining plant life; a flora species; a structure capable of allowing flora to grow out from the medium: The structure being of a geometry compatible with stacking or aligning a plurality of like units to facilitate either horizontal or vertical integration in partitioning, covering or stabilization

2. The structure of claim 1 wherein at least one face on said exterior surface may be removed, attached or hinged to enable entry into the interior of the structure.

3. The structure of claim 1, wherein the structure includes at least one interlock and receiver to strengthen stability during and after assembly.

4. The structure of claim 1, wherein the structure includes a plurality of interlocks and receivers to strengthen stability of the intended assembly.

5. The structure of claim 1, wherein the structure has the capability of being attached to an additional faceplate or attachment means to facilitate attachment to alternative structures and partitions.

6. The structure of claim 1, wherein the interlocks and receivers are positioned substantially parallel to each other of said surface of the structure.

7. The structure of claim 1, wherein the interlocks and receivers are positioned in opposite corners of said surface of the structure.

8. The structure of claim 1, wherein the interlock and receiver are positioned in the center of the exterior surface of the structure.

9. The structure of claim 2, wherein the structure includes at least one interlock and receiver to strengthen stability during and after assembly.

10. The structure of claim 2, wherein the structure includes a plurality of interlocks and receivers to strengthen stability of the intended assembly.

11. The structure of claim 2, wherein the structure has the capability of being attached to an additional faceplate or attachment means to facilitate attachment to alternative structures and partitions.

12. The structure of claim 2, wherein the interlocks and receivers are positioned substantially parallel to each other of said surface of the structure.

13. The structure of claim 2, wherein the interlocks and receivers are positioned in opposite corners of said surface of the structure.

14. The structure of claim 2, wherein the interlock and receiver are positioned in the center of the exterior surface of the structure.

Description:

PRIORITY INFORMATION

This application relates to and claims priority from Provisional Application No. 61/069,492 filed Mar. 15, 2008, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to stabilized earth wall systems and in particular to systems and methods for providing modular components in the construction of walls for mechanically stabilized earth walls, sound walls, erosion control, decorative landscaping and partitioning. The present invention is designed to be easily assembled, have interlocking components, provide protective structure, and include optional variable face components including: integrated growth medium to grow flora as specified, electrical lights and natural/cultured stone among other accessories.

2. Description of the Related Art

Various types of composite materials are employed within the construction and landscape professions to provide wall structures, partitions and coverings. An example is the use of recycled plastic composite materials to make decks surrounding houses or provide walkways. Generally, composite materials are designed by the manufacturers to mimic organic structures (Ex. redwood) which they replace on the surfaces or structure for which they are being applied. If the structure design incorporates flora or planted species, they must be planted, adhered or otherwise attached to the structure after assembly. An example includes tiered block structures which after assembly are filled with soil and the desired plant species. Garbage landfills and waste management systems are overwhelmed with “green waste” and discarded items that could be utilized in construction projects if there was a simplified methodology and component structure that could effectively incorporate them. Clearly, the environment would benefit from the recycling of said garbage and homeowners, landowner and municipalities would benefit from a rational way to reuse said waste in their construction projects and landscape designs.

The present invention provides methods, systems and processes not available in the prior art to enable rapid assembly and growth of walls, partitions and coverings that include living plant materials. Further, with the increasing popularity in the use of composite materials made from recycled waste, the present invention provides an alternative manufacturing process whereby the final product provided to industry requires less “virgin” or new materials in the overall manufacturing process.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In general, the present invention involves an innovative approach to improving methods, systems and processes in the manufacture and assembly of walls, partitions and coverings for construction and landscape projects. The inventor anticipates that numerous materials may be used to enhance rapid manufacture of the final product and lower the environmental impact associated with the manufacturing process.

Basic applications of the present invention identified by the inventor and used by example for the landscape contractor include:

    • 1. Light weight structure ready for assembly (ex. recycled plastic).
    • 2. Variable interlocking component designs horizontal, vertical.
    • 3. Integrated growth medium which is highly absorbent (ex. cellulose or green waste).
    • 4. Growth medium hydro-seeded with desired flora/plant structure.
    • 5. Removable grid structure to enable replacing growth medium/plants.
    • 6. Optional integrated irrigation system for simplified watering of plant structures.
    • 7. Optional plant plugs to variegate the flora or replace dead plant life.
    • 8. Optional structural reinforcement components (ex. steel rods).
    • 9. Flexible design to allow incorporation of other materials including, stone, metal wood, plastics, glass, etc. for desired variations.
    • 10. Optional backsplash or non permeable barrier so that the system can be placed against structures (Ex. buildings) preventing water from migrating to adjacent structure.
    • 11. Computer software either on a PC, online or Mobile device to assist in design, ordering and purchasing of the system and component features.

The present invention considers the use of wood, plastic, metal, concrete, stone and other manmade or natural materials to manufacture the components of the invention. However, although not required by the primary art of this patent, the present invention also considers the efficient reuse of garbage and recycled materials to produce the invention components and help reduce landfill waste. The inventor perceives no limitation in the use of catalysts, polymers or chemicals and in any combination thereof to enhance production of the present invention's components. Additionally, the inventor perceives no limitation in the geometrical design (Ex. block, oval, trapezoid, inverted, etc.) for each component of the invention or the style of interlocking tabs, adhesive components or structural stabilizers to insure the final structure maintains strength and stability and the method of attachment to the face structure of stabilizer components such as a counterfort,/deadman, hooks or locators. The inventor perceives no limitation in the design of the irrigation system to supply needed water and nutrients for the plant structures contained within the present invention. Further, current systems and methods, anticipated through the prior art, do not provide the capability as set forth in the present invention.

Contractors and homeowners are in critical need of a system to quickly and efficiently assemble walls, partitions and coverings which incorporate living plants to enhance landscape beautification, reduce and abate sounds and noises, provide insulation characteristics and increase the financial value of their construction projects. The present invention considers a plurality of systems, methods and processes to facilitate manufacturing and assembly of the desired components and structures.

One aspect of the invention involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would enable the attachment of a holding means like a “ZipTie®”, to individual component to stabilize the overall structure from unintended movement.

Another aspect involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would incorporate a removable component (door/lid) so as to enable access or maintenance to the internal growth medium/flora.

Another aspect involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would incorporate a locking means via tab, retainers or interlocks for the attachment to another individual component to stabilize the overall structure from unintended movement.

A further aspect involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would incorporate multiple (both vertical and horizontal) locking means via tab, retainers or interlocks for the attachment to another individual component to stabilize the overall structure from unintended movement.

Another aspect involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would incorporate a faceplate or stabilization means to enable attachment to a secondary or preexisting structure

A still further aspect involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would incorporate an attachment means for stabilization of the structure to an alternative earth wall system. (Example: Geometrical structure attached to stabilizing counterfort which is attached to geogrid placed under compacted soil.)

Another aspect involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would incorporate a removable faceplate with attachment means to enable rapid assembly and maintenance of the formed structure (Example: Poured in place concrete wall or attachment to a preexisting vertical wall.

A further aspect involves a geometrical structure formed to encapsulate or retain a growth medium capable of holding nutrients and water to facilitate the growth of specified flora integrated within the growth medium. Said geometrical structure would be designed to enhance fit and alignment with a secondary structure to form a wall, lattice, vertical or horizontal matrix of like components. Additionally, this aspect would incorporate a locking means via tab, retainers or interlocks for the attachment to another individual component to stabilize the overall structure from unintended movement

A geometrical structure in accordance with certain embodiments significantly reduces manufacturing costs, installation costs and environmental costs associated with landfill reduction. Although not required by the art, the inventor understands that the effective use of recycled materials from landfill including, plastics, metals, glass and green waste would enhance the production cost and lower the environmental damage associated with other competing systems including wood or concrete wall and partitioning/stabilization structures.

Any structure assembled in accordance with the invention would have the advantage of faster assembly, have a significantly lower carbon footprint, deliver superior seismic stability, provide a superior means for soil erosion control and subsequently grow the intended flora to blend into the surrounding landscape.

For summarizing the invention, certain aspects, advantages, and novel features of the invention are described herein. It is to be understood that not necessarily all such advantages may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment of the invention. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention may be embodied or carried out in a manner that achieves one advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is described in more detail below in connection with the attached drawings, which are meant to illustrate and not limit the invention, and in which:

FIG. 1 illustrate a front view of a structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40 and a means to attach a secondary stabilizer fastener

FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of FIG. 1 depicting a structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40.

FIG. 3 illustrates a front view of structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40 and means to service the growth medium via an operable door or lid 80.

FIG. 4 illustrates a side of FIG. 3 depicting a structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40 and means to service the growth medium via an operable door or lid 80.

FIG. 5 illustrates a front view of a structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40 and an interlock tab 70.

FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of FIG. 5 depicting a structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40 and an interlock tab 70.

FIG. 7 illustrates a front view depicting a structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40 and multiple interlocking tabs 70.

FIG. 8 illustrates a side view of FIG. 7 depicting a structure 20 that has a growth medium filling 40 and multiple interlocking tabs 70.

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of an alternative geometry of the structure depicted in FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 is a front perspective view of one embodiment whereby several block structures 40 are assembled together and plant flora 110 is growing.

FIG. 11 a side perspective view of one embodiment whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60 and one aspect of attachment anchor 90.

FIG. 12 is a top perspective view of one embodiment depicted in FIG. 11 whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60 and one aspect of an attachment anchor.

FIG. 13 is a rear perspective view of one embodiment depicted in FIG. 1 whereby the one aspect of a faceplate 60 and one aspect of an attachment anchor 90.

FIG. 14 is a side perspective view of one embodiment depicted in FIG. 1 whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60 and one aspect of attachment anchor 90 and a stabilization anchor 80.

FIG. 15 is a top perspective view of one embodiment depicted in FIG. 1 whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60 and one aspect of attachment anchor 90 and a stabilization anchor 80.

FIG. 16 is a side perspective view of one embodiment depicted in FIG. 11 whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60 and one aspect of attachment anchor 90 and stabilization mechanism 80. Further three individual modules are stacked within stresses soil 100 to demonstrate their mechanism of assembly and the downward forces of stabilization

FIG. 17 is a side perspective view of another embodiment whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60, one aspect of stabilization anchor 120 and an alternative locator 10 for faceplate to growth medium.

FIG. 18 is a top perspective view of the embodiment depicted in FIG. 17 whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60, one aspect of stabilization anchor 120 and an alternative locator 10 for faceplate to growth medium.

FIG. 19 is a rear perspective view of the embodiment depicted in FIG. 17 whereby faceplate 60, one aspect of stabilization anchor 120 and an alternative locator 10 for faceplate to growth medium.

FIG. 20 is a side perspective view of another embodiment of the invention whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within a skewed rectangle 20.

FIG. 21 is a side perspective view of another embodiment of the invention whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within a octagonal structure 20.

FIG. 22 is a side perspective view of another embodiment of the invention whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within a triangular structure 20.

FIG. 23 is a side perspective view of another embodiment whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60, one aspect of multiple stabilization anchors 120 and an alternative locator 10 for faceplate to growth medium.

FIG. 24 is a side perspective view of multiple components depicted in FIG. 23 embedded into a vertical concrete wall 140 to display one embodiment of application.

FIG. 25 is a side perspective view of another embodiment whereby growth medium 40 has been placed within the structure 20, attached to faceplate 60, one aspect of attachment anchor 90, one aspect of multiple stabilization anchors 120 and an alternative locator 10 for faceplate to growth medium.

FIG. 26 is a side perspective view of multiple components depicted in FIG. 25 attached to vertical rail 160 to display one embodiment of application

FIG. 27 is a front perspective view of multiple components depicted in FIG. 25 attached to vertical rail 160 to display one embodiment of application.

FIG. 28 is a front perspective view of alternative structure 20 with integrated growth medium 40 alternative male interlocks 60 and female receivers for said interlocks 130.

FIG. 29 is a is a top perspective view of structure 20 with integrated growth medium 40 alternative male interlocks 60 and female receivers for said interlocks 130 with additional angular footing 180.

FIG. 30 is a is a side perspective view of FIG. 29 with structure 20 with integrated growth medium 40 alternative male interlocks 60 and additional angular footing 180.

FIG. 31 is a is a side perspective 3D view of FIG. 5 with structure 20 with integrated growth medium 40 alternative male interlocks 60 and female interlocks 130 footing 180.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In order to facilitate a complete understanding of various embodiments of the invention, the remainder of the detailed description describes exemplary embodiments with reference to the drawings, wherein like elements are referenced with like numerals throughout.

FIGS. 1-2 illustrate one example of a geometrical structure 20 that has contained within its substructure a growth medium 40 which is pre-seeded with a desired plant structure (flora) and a means by which a tie or fastener can group together a plurality of similar structures to rapidly assemble wall structures, partitions and coverings of the like in accordance with a first aspect of the present invention. The structure 20 is preferably formed from a material, such as plastic, metal, wood or composite material to rapidly form the superstructure to the desired geometrical configuration and has holes or openings to allow the flora to grow outward from the growth medium. High speed forming/molding of plastic, metal, wood or composite is well known in the art. It is important that the structural material be sufficiently strong to maintain the individual unit geometry and integrity as well as the combined structure of a plurality of units. In the present embodiment, the growth medium 40 includes the ability to absorb and retain nutrients and water as well as grow and stabilize the intended flora. Any geometrical configuration may be employed for the desired structural units including but not limited to rectangles, trapezoids, triangles, spheres, pyramids, etc. Those in the art will understand that any of several well known manufacturing methods can be employed to achieve the purposes of this invention.

FIGS. 3-4 depicts an alternative embodiment of an advantageous geometrical structure 20 whereby a removable or hinged door/lid 50 may be employed in the overall design to facilitate maintenance or service of the growth medium 40. As depicted in FIG. 4, the structure 20 can be easily opened from the exterior to replace the growth medium or flora 40. This embodiment is particularly useful where there has been failure or contamination of the growth medium or there has been the need to replace the flora for a new landscape effect or potential die off of the flora species.

Another embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 5. As explained above, the advantage of having the ability to securely attach each structure 40 to a plurality of similar structures is necessary for rapid assembly. FIG. 5 depicts one example of a horizontal tab 60 and receiver to facilitate assembly and stabilization. Accordingly, as depicted in FIG. 5, in order to allow for increased stabilization during and after assembly, the tab 60 and interlock receiver may be of any geometry and may be placed on any portion of the exterior structure 20 to facilitate stabilization and structural strength wipe 22 optionally includes a dry notch 48. FIGS. 7 and 8 depict alternative embodiments of FIG. 5 whereby both vertical and horizontal interlocks 70 are employed on the structure 20 to increase stabilization of a plurality of units assembled into a desired structure.

FIG. 9 displays an alternative geometry whereby the structure is spherical and the interlock protrudes from the interior of the spherical structure to enable stabilization of a plurality of structures 20.

FIG. 10 illustrates a plurality of structures assembled with growth medium 40 and flora 80 growing out from the wall. Those skilled in the art will understand the convenience simplified assembly of a vertical wall structure that provides instant privacy and security all while immediately growing a flora/landscape system.

FIGS. 11-13 depict an alternative embodiment whereby the structure 20 and growth medium 40 may be attached to a faceplate 60 to enable two stage assembly to new or pre-existing construction. This embodiment enables pre-assembly of the wall or partition structure and then customizing the final flora/growth medium when desired. For example to change the flora out, repair or customize without altering the initial wall/partition's structural stability.

FIGS. 14-15 illustrates another alternative embodiment of the present invention. Mechanically stabilized walls have become increasing popular. Modifying the faceplate 60 of the structure 20 to allow the attachment of a stabilizing structure 80 (Ex. counterfort) which could be placed below a compacted surface or attached to a geogrid enables the present invention to provide new methodology in stabilized walls structures.

FIG. 16 illustrates a plurality of the embodiments depicted in FIGS. 14 and 15 stacked vertically within a mechanically stabilized wall structure.

FIGS. 17-19 illustrate another embodiment of the present invention whereby the faceplate 60 has a locator 10 to ease attachment to structure 40 and an alternative attachment anchor.

FIGS. 20-22 illustrate alternative geometries for the structure 20 to encapsulate the growth medium 40. Those skilled in the art will recognize that a variety of geometries may be easily employed to deliver the characteristics of the invention. The inventor sees no limitation as to the geometrical configuration of the structure 20.

FIG. 23 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention whereby the structure 20 can be easily attached to a poured in place wall structure 140 via the faceplate 60 and attachment anchors 120. FIG. 24 depicts the embodiment depicted in FIG. 23 attached to a poured in place composite structure 140. The poured in place structure may be composed of any compound for example concrete or plastic polymer.

FIGS. 25-27 depict an alternative embodiment of the present invention whereby the structure 20 can be easily attached to a poured in place wall structure 140 via the faceplate 60 and attachment anchors 120. FIGS. 26-27 depicts the embodiment depicted in FIG. 23 attached to a vertical rail 160 enabling attachment of the structure 20 to any pre-existing surface.

FIG. 29 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention whereby the structure 20 can be free standing with an integrated footing 180 and an alternative male interlock 60 with alternative female receiver 130 for said interlock.

FIG. 30 depicts a side vie of FIG. 29 of the present invention whereby the structure 20 can be free standing with an integrated footing 180 and an alternative male interlock 60.

FIG. 31 is a is a side perspective 3D view of FIG. 5 with structure 20 with integrated growth medium 40 alternative male interlocks 60 and female interlocks 130 footing 180.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that a variety of materials may be used to manufacture the intended invention. Based on comprehensive investigation, the inventor believes that recycled materials including plastics, glass, metals and green waste present a logical alternative for manufacturing with the by products being reduction in material costs, reduction in labor costs, reduction in landfill, reduction in environmental impact and a lower overall carbon footprint from the manufacturing process for the intended invention.

For summarizing the invention, certain aspects, advantages, and novel features of the invention are described herein. It is to be understood that not necessarily all such advantages may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment of the invention. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the invention may be embodied or carried out in a manner that achieves one advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.

Although this invention has been disclosed in the context of certain preferred embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the present invention herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described above, but should be determined only by a fair reading of the claims that follow.