3. NEHEMIAH WALLS
Did you know those hexagon-shaped blocks along flyovers are invented by a Malaysian? The design is such a success that it is being used in countries such as Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong.
The Nehemiah walls are more durable and faster to build compared to rigid concrete blocks.
The inventor : Dr. Nehemiah Lee.
What it is: A Nehemiah Wall consists of three major components: a facade, reinforcing bars, and soil.
Its facade, or facing panel, comprises hexagonal (honeycomb-shaped) blocks of pre-cast concrete, each interlocked with dowel bars. But the real ingenuity lies behind these panels: the compressed soil, usually sand, that holds up the facade is strengthened with galvanised carbon steel rods running through it and into the panel. Each hexagon in the facade has at least four of these steel bars, with each bar secured by an anchor block.
How did it happen? "In the early 1980s I was working with Reinforced Earth, a concept developed in the 1960s by French engineer and architect Henri Vidal. He turned the concept into an engineered system and popularised the idea of using reinforced soil in construction."
“I studied the system, learnt the technology, and researched heavily into creating my own modified system while working on my Masters degree,” says Dr Lee, adding that, “I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of building walls that are not for dividing people, but are strong, versatile, and useful.”
Liew Shaw Shong, consultant engineer and director of G&P Geotechnics Sdn Bhd, likes the design: “We’ve used Nehemiah Walls for about 30 projects that were awarded through open tenders. The advantage of the walls is their design that can tolerate differential settlement of soil along a single stretch of wall. A typical reinforced-concrete wall is unable to accommodate this and will crack."
Apart from its technologically sound product, Liew offers another possible reason why the company has been so successful: “There are variations of reinforced earth walls but Dr Lee gave us the most competitive pricing and proposal. His team is very pleasant to work with, as its members are prudent, responsive, and have integrity. They don’t just simply do things. They even assessed the project beyond their job scope to offer technical advice to us.”