Researchers in the Civil Engineering Department of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT M) have developed a method of design and construction to make use of Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panels to build rapid, cost-effective mass housing. To showcase this technology, a ‘model housing apartment' comprising four flats in a two-storeyed building, has been constructed inside the IIT-M campus. The ‘GFRG demo building', constructed in just a month, was inaugurated today by Sri TKA Nair, Advisor to Honourable Prime Minister of India, in the presence of Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras.
Since 2003, the IITM research team had conducted extensive studies on the use of these panels as structural members for all components of the building, including earthquake resistant design. These panels, originally developed by RBS Australia, were intended as wall panels (‘Rapidwall') suitable for rapid erection of walls in buildings to carry gravity loads. The panels are made of calcined gypsum plaster, combined with special additives and glass fibres, to produce GFRG panels – 12m long, 3m high and 124mm thick (with hollow cavities). The IITM research group extended the application of this product for the entire building system – including floors, roofs, and staircases, thus significantly reducing the consumption of Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC). The team also collaborated in the indigenous development of an excellent water-proofing material, which is essential for prolonged durability of the GFRG panels, especially in the case of roofs and toilets.
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