Architectural Theory, Construction Materials

Ferrocement: Application, and Advantages in Architecture

Recently in the architecture field, you might have noticed that ferrocement, as a building material, has been gaining popularity. Ferrocement is a construction material which uses cement mortar on wire meshes to achieve the required form and shapes. 

Additionally, ferrocement requires Less steel and cement, making it both cost beneficial and sustainable.

Ferrocement construction, application and advantages
Ferrocement Uses And Construction

Materials Required For Ferrocement

Ferrocement is a system of different materials mixed in specific proportions.

  1. Cement
  2. Aggregate
  3. Water
  4. Mortar Mix
  5. Wire mesh
  6. Skeletal Steel
  7. Additives
  8. Coating

Properties Of Ferrocement

a. Versatility and Flexibility

Ferrocement can be used to make all kinds of shapes,as long as a skeletal frame of it is achievable.

b. Usage Of Rods And Meshes

Ferrocement construction uses steel rods and meshes to make the skeletal frame of the structure. The mesh can also be of other metals or materials.

c. Use Of Cement

Ferrocement construction uses cement for the mixture instead of concrete. The usage of cement is also lesser than on conventional construction, since a thinner layer of mortar is only applied on the skeletal frame.

d. Strength

The strength of the structure depends on the quality of materials and ratio of cement and sand used.

Construction Process Using Ferrocement

Flexible shapes and structures can be made using ferrocement. This process usually consists of four major steps:

a. Fabricating The Skeletal System

Making The Skeletal System
  • In this step, a rough skeletal figure is constructed using steel.
  • The shape of this skeletal frame depends on the project requirements.

b. Applying Rods And Meshes

Making The Form Out Of Rods And Meshes
  • Meshes and rods are further added to the skeletal frame to make the required shape for the design.

c. Plastering

Plastering Cement Mortar On The Mesh
  • Cement mortar is plastered on this frame.
  • The frame should be fully covered carefully to avoid distortion of the required shape.
  • The layer of mortal applied is very thin.

d. Curing

The Structure Is Left To Cure
  • The structure is then left to cure for a few days.
  • No support or framework is required to support the structure.

e. Coating And Enhancing

  • After curing properly, coatings to beautify or enhance the properties of the structure are applied.

Advantages of Ferrocement

a. Less Weight

Structures made using ferrocement have very less self weight because of less use of mortar while making.

b. Any Kind Of Shape Can Be Made

The mortar is applied around the skeletal shape of the structure. So any kind of shape can be made and covered.

c. Earthquake Resistant

Due to its lightweight and strength, ferrocement is a good choice for building in earthquake prone areas.

d. Lack of Skilled Labour

Since the construction process is easy, skilled labour is unnecessary while building structures using ferrocement.

e. Less Construction Time

Since skilled labour is not required, the construction time is significantly reduced.

f. Frameworks Are Not Required

Ferrocement construction involves plastering mortar around steel frames and meshes. This technique does not involve any sort of framework or support.

g. Low Cost Of Maintenance

Frameworks and supports alone cost forty percent of the total construction value. By reducing the need for them, it brings down the money required to construct the structure.

Disadvantages of Ferrocement

a. Can Be Punctured Easily

Ferrocement structures can be punctured easily by sharp objects.

b. Labour Requirements

Although skilled labour is not required, a large number of unskilled labour is needed. This increases the cost as well.

c. Corrosion

Ferrocement is not corrosion resistant. Not covering the meshes and frames properly can also rest in weakening of the skeletal frame due to rusting.

d. Tiresome Work

The making of the skeletal structure and covering it with meshes is a very tedious and time consuming work.

e. Not Easy To Modify

Since the mortar covers a skeletal frame, the structure itself is not easy to change or modify once it is done.

f. Difficult To Fasten

It is neither safe nor easy to fasten ferrocement structures with nuts, nails, screws, bolts etc.

Applications Of Ferrocement

a. Structures With Non-conventional Shapes

Unconventionally Shaped Interiors

Ferrocement can be used to build structures of many weird shapes.

  • Curved structures such as domes and hills
  • Customized shapes according to the client’s requirements can also be made easily.

b. Hydraulic Or Marine Structures

Ferrocement is also a good choice when building structures that are exposed to water.

  • Dams, irrigation systems, retaining walls and bridges can be built using this.
  • Ship hulls are also sometimes built using ferrocement.

c. Food Storage Structures

Ferrocement can be used to store items which should not come in contact with water or moisture.

  • Round and conical silos for storing grains and food can be built.

d. Road Repairs 

  • Pavements and other road structures can be built using ferrocement
  • Road repairs can also be done using this.

e. Earthquake Resistant Structures

  • Ferrocement is strong enough to withstand light tremors.
  • Even in the event of a collapse, the damage is reduced due to its lightweight.

Ferrocement offers creative freedom to designs while also being a relatively sustainable option. There has been an increase in its usage in the past decade and a lot more potential is being uncovered.

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