It has been an uphill climb for Kerala after the floods that ravaged the state, killed hundreds and left scores homeless. The state has slowly started returning to normal life, with the Cochin International Airport also resuming operations. But there is still a long way to go. As people return home from relief camps, many find that their houses have been destroyed – reduced to heaps of bricks and mud. Reconstruction will prove to be a time-consuming and costly affair. But there is help on the horizon.
According to reports, the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), and Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID) have come up with a method that enables the creation of a house measuring 450 sq ft, comprising two bedrooms, a kitchen and a formal living space, on a budget of only Rs 5 lakh!
What’s more! The house is made using ferrocement technology, giving it the ability to withstand natural disasters like floods better than conventional homes. For those who have lost their homes, this unique innovation may just be what they need.
So, what is this ferrocement technology? Ferrocement or ferro-cement is a construction material made up of wire meshes and cement mortar. Cement mortar is applied over a layer of metal mesh, woven or expanded metal, and closely spaced steel bars.
It has many advantages – like low construction material cost, ease of construction, low weight, a long lifetime and the ability to be fabricated into any desired shape.
Ferrocement technology is excellent for rehabilitation purposes, as it takes only a month to complete the construction of one house and the cost of maintenance is low. In fact, the first ferrocement house was handed over to a beneficiary at a function at Ramankary, by R Nazar, the president of the Alappuzha district panchayat.
The technology will be deployed to rebuild properties that were destroyed or damaged in the Kerala floods, and Jiji Thomas, an engineer and expert in the field, will be a part of the rebuilding project. Many homes around Thrissur, built about 10 years ago, were constructed using this technology, and according to IIA Thrissur Chairman architect Ranjith Roy, if the government and other agencies are ready to bear the construction expenses, the centre will provide technical help and supervision for free.