24 hour deployable concrete tents back in the news as disasters mount

May 19, 2011 by Bob Yirka weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- First imagined and created back in 2007 by two University engineering students who met at the Royal College of Art in London, Will Crawford and Peter Brewin; tents that can be shipped to a disaster site in a wooden box, unfolded and blown up with a fan, then hardened into concrete within 24 hours, are back in the news as disasters from Haiti, to Chili, New Zealand, Japan and the United States have highlighted the need for emergency shelter that can be brought to use in very short order.

The tents, winner of 11 awards, are available from a company the pair have founded, Canvas, are made by impregnating cement particles into a fabric, which are then sewn together and affixed to an inner plastic coating that serves as a bladder for holding air when it is pushed in by a fan. Upon delivery, the tent need only be unrolled and pulled out in the desired location (using a vehicle, as the tent is very heavy, of course) tacked down with stakes, then filled with air via a fan. Then, once in place, the tent is soaked with water (any will do, dirty, salty, etc.) and then left to dry for 24 hours. Once in place, the tents last for up to ten years.

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The tents are delivered in an airtight sack to prevent decay of the materials, and delivered in heat treated timber panel crates, and because of the inner plastic lining, the tent housing is airtight, which means it can be used for sterile medical purposes. The tent, because it is based on ceramic technology, is also fire proof.

Brewin notes in a BBC video interview that he and his partner came up with the idea in response to a design competition, but then immediately saw the benefit that could be derived from such a shelter in areas where disaster strikes due to the speed with which the tents could be both delivered and setup for almost immediate use. The duo also point out that though the tents can be used to protect people from small arms fire and such, they don’t see it as a weapon, but instead as a means of defense, from human as well as natural elements.

The cement tents come in two sizes, 5.0 m long by 5.6 m wide by 2.6 m Max Height with a floor space of 26 sqm and 10.0 m long by 5.6 m wide by 2.8 m Max Height and a floor space of 54 sqm. Both come with installable doors and because the walls are hard, electrical outlets and plumbing pipes can also be installed.
A virtual tour of the inside of one of the tents can be taken at the Concrete Canvas website.

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User comments : 7

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Nik_2213
5 / 5 (2) May 19, 2011
Brilliant !!
hemitite
5 / 5 (3) May 19, 2011
Nik, I agree, but I hope it's ok to cut out windows: one of those shelters would turn into a oven on a hot day!

Turn it upside down and with a few small modifications one could have a boat!
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2011
Heavy, heavy bag-o-cement cloth.
Ken1
not rated yet May 19, 2011
I like the idea, but many (probably most) folks think of emergency shelters as "short-term". Therefore this concept would be resisted. Haiti would benefit greatly with these shelters, but most folks favor "rebuilding".
I wonder what these cost?
I can see a lot of military potential.
jwalkeriii
not rated yet May 19, 2011
Love the "commercial." Nicely presented. Hope they sell lots of these and get the price down.

"A bag weighing 230 kilograms (approximately 500 pounds) inflates into a shelter with 16 square meters (172 square feet) of floor space. Cost is estimated at £1,100 ($2,100), while an equivalent-size Portakabin (a type of portable building widely used in the United Kingdom) costs about £4,000 ($7,700). The same-size tent costs about £600 ($1,150)."
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) May 19, 2011
More permanent housing like this can be found at monolithic.com
mrlewish
not rated yet May 20, 2011
I don't know. We got about a bajillion unused ISO containers laying around that would make better homes.

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