|Saip S (2001) Suitability of ferrocement to replace traditional
materials for national park facilities, Hornbill
SUITABILITY OF FERROCEMENT TO REPLACE TRADITIONAL
MATERIALS FOR NATIONAL PARK FACILITIES
SAIP BIN SULONG1
National Park facilities need to be made of
economical and nature friendly materials. Most of our parks use timber,
which we consider unsustainable. As timber becomes very expensive and
less likely to be used for building purposes, it will become more
difficult to find good quality hardwood to build a building or other
facilities, and then an artificial material will be needed.
Ferrocement is an artificial material that is
appropriate and has become very important to replace traditional
materials. It has been used in other countries for facilities in remote
areas and recreational parks. Several kinds of park facilities can be
made with ferrocement. It will be necessary to have park designers and
carpenters familiar with the material and well trained in its
characteristics in order to use the technology effectively.
The development of facilities in national parks
should take account of various factors such as environment, ecosystem,
maintenance and safety. Most national parks use traditional materials
such as timber and other forest products as construction materials, but
these materials deteriorate relatively quickly.
Ferrocement is an alternative material to replace
high cost and short-lived traditional materials. It is the oldest form
of cement-based material, consisting of a cement matrix reinforced with
a mesh of closely-spaced irons rods or wires. It requires very simple
construction techniques and is suitable for developing countries.
Ferrocement’s low cost, durability and
serviceability were recognised by engineers and builders throughout the
world. Many items have been made with this material in local
recreational areas e.g. at the Kuching Water Front and the State Digital
Joseph Louis Lambot invented ferrocement in 1848,
with the intention of using it for bridges and buildings. It was
patented in 1852 with this statement:
"My invention is a new product that can
replace timber (in wood flooring, water container etc.) that is
exposed to damage by water or dampness. The base for the new
substance is a metal net of wire or rods interconnected to form a
flexible woven mat. I fashion this net into a form that is similar
to the article I want to create, then I use hydraulic cement or
bitumen or mix to fill up the joints." (Quoted in UNIMAS,
By the 1960s ferrocement’s durability and
serviceability was recognised by engineers and builders throughout the
world who endorsed it as a suitable and economical material for the
construction of barges, larger vessels, tanks and housing (Batson,
2000). Ferrocement was widely accepted in the United Kingdom, New
Zealand and Australia. For example, in 1967, a sailing ship was produced
from ferrocement in New Zealand and successfully travelled over the
world, though it had accidents with steel ships and icebergs (UNIMAS,
USES OF FERROCEMENT
Ferrocement is a very adaptable material that can be
used to make a wide range of items of various sizes. It is frequently
used for the construction of housing and buildings, landscape
structures, agriculture facilities, public health facilities and
Prefabricated ferrocement wall panels have been used
for low cost housing in Selangor, Malaysia (Abdullah, 1990). Mosque
domes constructed with ferrocement are found in Indonesia and Jordan,
taking advantage of the ease of creating curves with the material.
Unique and beautiful buildings with this technology are found in India,
Cuba, Israel and Bangladesh. In Malaysia, there are two companies that
construct ferrocement boats ranging from 2 to 6 feet in width for
export. Ferrocement is also used for swimming pools and pontoons (UNIMAS
The material is particularly useful for repairing old
THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF FERROCEMENT FOR
Ferrocement has the following features which make it
suitable for use in protected areas:
- Unaffected by termites
- Resistant to weathering, lasting well even in wet areas (minimum
repair or replacement costs).
- Adaptable: can used for a range of articles, including sculpture
or replicas of local cultural designs, plants or animals.
- Does not need any heavy equipment for construction, so can be used
in remote areas.
- Straightforward design and construction, with little calculation.
On the other hand, it does have the following
- Needs skilled, creative carpenters to produce good quality items
with fine finishes.
- Takes time to produce certain structures.
- Heavy, so that large structures cannot be transported but have to
be constructed on site.
- Heavy structures also need strong support and good foundations.
The conservation of forested areas is a high
priority. The introduction of new materials other than timber can reduce
the consumption of forest products for construction purposes. We should
start looking for alternative materials for our parks, materials which
have low maintenance costs and are environmentally friendly.
Ferrocement is one material which can be used in
place of timber. It is very economical, as it can withstand weathering
and has a long life with little maintenance. Most of the ferrocement
products around us are replicas of traditional items, such as benches
made to look like sawn timber. However, it has its own special
properties which can be exploited creatively to produce unique
structures which could not be built with traditional materials.
Most important, ferrocement is an environmental
friendly material. The construction technique is very simple and does
not need any heavy machinery and equipment, which could cause damage to
Batson, G. (2000). "Book Review Of Ferrocement and Laminated
Cementatious Composites", online http://www.ferrocement.net/uses.htm,
UNIMAS (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) (1996) Kursus Teknologi