Ferrocement Construction

The tech behind our Prefab Kits: Advanced Ferrocement Unibody Stress-Skin Composite Construction Engineering and Technology

What is Fer­ro­cement?

Fer­ro­cement (n): aka "ciment armé" (armored cement), a meth­od of cre­at­ing highly re­in­forced, thin shell con­crete struc­tures, a type of thin wall re­in­forced con­crete con­struc­tion where usu­ally a hy­draul­ic ce­ment is re­in­forced with lay­ers of con­tinu­ous and re­l­at­ively small dia­met­er mesh; ori­gin­ally used for boat hulls; in­ven­ted by Joseph-Louis Lam­bot & Joseph Moni­er in France in 1848.

am-cor Ferrocement Wall Panel embedded in foundation/floor slab
am-cor Ferrocement Wall Panel embedded in foundation/floor slab

Quick His­tory

Fer­ro­ce­ment is the for­got­ten sis­ter of stand­ard re­in­forced con­crete con­struc­tion (both were in­ven­ted & pat­en­ted in France in the 19th cen­tury by Joseph Moni­er & Joseph-Louis Lam­bot). Re­in­forced con­crete went on to be used for build­ing, and Fer­ro­ce­ment was mostly used for boat hulls. Un­for­tu­nately, Fer­ro­ce­ment's use in con­struc­tion was ec­lipsed by re­in­forced con­crete. Ar­chi­tect An­gus W. Mac­don­ald developed a method of pan­el­iz­ing, pre­fab­ric­at­ing, and mass pro­du­cing Fer­ro­ce­ment build­ing com­pon­ents, called the am-cor System.

Fer­ro­ce­ment Con­struc­tion

Structural Unibody: seamless Ferrocement skin over entire building

When usu­ally used for con­struc­tion, Fer­ro­ce­ment is of­ten cus­tom-formed on-site by hand, in a time-con­sum­ing and er­ror-prone pro­cess.

Angus W. Macdonald's com­bin­a­tion of ad­vanced Fer­ro­ce­ment unibody con­struc­tion with his preen­gin­eered, pre­fab­ric­ated, pan­el­ized pro­duc­tion meth­ods, res­ults in a su­per­i­or build­ing con­struc­tion sys­tem:

  • Stand­ard­ized for code ap­prov­al, per­mit­ting, ship­ping
  • Ex­tremely Fast & Ef­fi­cient
  • Min­im­al Labor/Ma­ter­i­al
  • Mod­ern, Ad­vanced Tech­no­logy
  • Af­ford­able & In­ex­pens­ive
  • Both Green and Sus­tain­able & Re­si­li­ent

Fer­ro­cement & the am-cor Sys­tem

The pat­en­ted am-cor Uni­fied Steel & Ce­ment Sys­tem of con­struc­tion uses Fer­ro­cement ex­tens­ively, both on a build­ing com­pon­ent level and a struc­tur­al level.

Key to the am-cor Sys­tem's suc­cess:

  • Ad­vanced Fer­ro­cement en­gin­eer­ing, which al­lows for an ex­tremely high strength-to-weight ra­tio, us­ing much less ma­ter­i­al than stand­ard con­struc­tion
  • Spe­cial­ized am­cor­ite™ struc­tur­al ce­ment ad­dit­ive, which al­lows very thin, in­teg­rated ce­ment shells to act as disaster-resistant, high tensile, unibody Fer­ro­cement stress-skins
  • Fer­ro­cement's con­sid­er­ably less ma­ter­i­al use = cheaper & faster to build with; smaller carbon footprint

The disaster resistant strength of the am-cor Sys­tem emerges from its in­teg­rated, com­pos­ite con­struc­tion.

Struc­tur­al In­teg­ra­tion

Integrated Ferrocement floor/wall/truss

The am-cor Sys­tem fea­tures ad­vanced, pat­en­ted, Fer­ro­ce­ment tech­no­logy.  All build­ing ele­ments are uni­fied by a mono­coque, Fer­ro­ce­ment build­ing skin – form­ing a single in­teg­rated struc­ture.

  • Walls, roofs, floors, stairs, bal­conies, etc. act as a single struc­tur­al unit
  • Elim­in­ates need for sep­ar­ate struc­tur­al ele­ments or ma­ter­i­als for walls, beams, columns, head­ers, etc.
  • Does not rely on fasten­ers (nails, bolts, screws)
  • Single ma­ter­i­al unibody con­struc­tion elim­in­ates need for com­plic­ated multi-ma­ter­i­al flash­ings, con­nec­tions, and de­tails

The com­pos­ite con­struc­tion of the unibody and mono­coque struc­tur­al build­ing skin means:

  • Great­er struc­tur­al strength
  • 2-3 times the strength of re­in­forced con­crete block ma­sonry
  • Uses 80% less ma­ter­i­al than re­in­forced con­crete block ma­sonry
  • No fasten­ers = no weak points
  • Pat­en­ted Fer­roStress™ skin = disaster resistance, in­creased dur­ab­il­ity
  • Out­side forces dis­trib­uted through struc­tur­al stress skin and frame
  • All out­side forces are dis­trib­uted through the am­cor­ite struc­tur­al stress skin to the in­tern­al gal­van­ized steel frame

Com­pos­ite Fer­ro­cement Con­struc­tion

  • Com­bin­a­tion of dif­fer­ent ma­ter­i­als, which to­geth­er act as a stronger unit
  • am­cor­ite™ con­crete and car­bon steel mesh mem­bers form struc­tur­al, highly re­in­forced stress skin
  • Al­lows for both unibody and mono­coque con­struc­tion tech­niques
    • Unibody = struc­tur­al skin is in­teg­rated in­to a single unit with the frame, rather than a sep­ar­ate body-on-frame
    • Mono­coque = struc­tur­al skin sup­ports struc­tur­al load, rather than in­tern­al frame with non-load-bear­ing skin
    • Used in auto­mobile and air­craft con­struc­tion to provide sta­bil­ity and light­weight struc­tur­al in­teg­rity


Ballistics-resistant pizza shop

In­vent­or An­gus W. Mac­don­ald's works on Fer­ro­ce­ment:

  • Ferro-Ce­ment Coat­ings on Pan­el­ized Light­weight Steel Frame Struc­tures, Ferro-7 Sev­enth In­ter­na­tion­al Sym­posi­um on Fer­ro­ce­ment and Thin Re­in­forced Ce­ment Com­pos­ites, 2001. M. A. Mansur and K. C. G. Ong, ed­it­ors, Na­tion­al Uni­versity of Singa­pore, Singa­pore, 415-420 - Contact us for a copy
  • Ar­chi­tec­tur­al De­tails to De­vel­op Af­ford­able Dis­as­ter Res­ist­ant Struc­tures Us­ing Fer­ro­ce­ment Tech­no­logy, Ferro-8 Eighth In­ter­na­tion­al Sym­posi­um on Fer­ro­ce­ment and Thin Re­in­forced Ce­ment Com­pos­ites, Bangkok, Thai­l­and, 2006 - Contact us for a copy
  • Af­ford­able Fer­ro­ce­ment Hous­ing, 2017, An­gus W. Mac­don­ald M.Arch. AIA Ar­chi­tect
  • In­nov­a­tions in Fer­ro­ce­ment, Key­note Ad­dress: Fourth Na­tion­al Con­ven­tion of the Fer­ro­ce­ment So­ci­ety of In­dia, Ker­ala, In­dia, 2017
  • Design­ing for Dis­as­ter Res­ist­ance, Amer­ic­an In­sti­tu­te of Ar­chi­tects: Ar­chi­tec­ture Ex­change East Sym­posi­um, 2018 Rich­mond, VA USA
  • am-cor Dis­as­ter Res­ist­ant Emer­gency Re­con­struc­tion, 2018, An­gus W. Mac­don­ald M.Arch. AIA Ar­chi­tect
  • Steel Build­ing Kits, 2010 - In­ter­view with An­gus W. Mac­don­ald

Ex­tern­al re­sources: