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Concrete Canvas - Inflatable Concrete Buildings

The Concrete Canvas product has been called inflatable concrete - and not without reason. It is designed to be a rapidly-deployable semi-permanent shelter that can be airlifted to any spot on the globe.


(Concrete Canvas Deployment Process)

At 230 kilograms, it's no lightweight. Once in position (eight men are recommended), the sack is filled with water, and left for fifteen minutes. Once hydrated, the sack is cut along its seams and unfolded.

The shelter is then unfolded to form the footprint of the small building. A small chemical pack is activated to perform the inflation, releasing a controlled volume of gas into the plastic inner lining.

The concrete cloth cures in the shape of the inflated inner lining; twelve hours later, you move in and celebrate. Access points may be cut as needed.

This idea reminded me of architectural coral, an idea proposed by Larry Niven in his 1968 novel A Gift From Earth. Here's how it works:

The remnants of the shaping balloon, which gave all architectural coral buildings their telltale bulge, had been carefully scraped away...

...A genetic manipulation of ordinary sea coral, it was the cheapest building material known. The only real cost was in the plastic balloon that guided the growth of the coral and enclosed the coral's special air-borne food.
(Read more about Larry Niven's architectural coral)

Coral has been used with great success for building projects; forts made with mined coral blocks in the New World have lasted for centuries.

If you are interested in unusual construction methods, you'll like this article about an prototype device that lets you three-dimensionally "print" a house - see Contour Crafting: 3D House Printer. Read more at the Concrete Canvas website.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/2/2006)

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