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Seeing as the PPC Imaginarium has now entered the making phase of the competition, we'll be looking at innovative ways with cement, specifically ideas and products that look beyond the conventional and have 'out of the box' thinking behind them. The first article in this series looks at concrete canvas.


Have you heard of Concrete Canvas? Called Concrete Cloth in the USA, this dynamic material brings the added advantages of flexibility, reduced weight and speed to cement use.

It was conceptualised by Peter Brewin and Will Crawford whilst studying towards postgraduate degrees at the Royal College of Art in London. Brewin and Crawford initially entered a competition run by the British Cement Association, with the aim of experimenting with different uses of cement and the construction of temporary housing structures. Inspired by Modroc, a plaster-impregnated bandage that helps heal broken bones, the duo developed Concrete Cloth.

Concrete Canvas Channel Lining

What resulted is fabric embedded with a formula of dry cement that hardens when exposed to water. One side of the cloth is backed with PVC to ensure waterproofing. Hydrophilic fibres on the other side are a hydration aid and draw water into the cement.

The cloth can then be quickly and easily moulded into the desired shape with a drying time that can be up to ten times faster than ordinary cement. It is sold in rolls that are easily transportable and far lighter than conventional methods of cement application such as pouring, spraying and pre-casting.

Concrete Canvas Channel Lining

These qualities have lead to widespread use of the product in the civil construction industry, especially at sites that are hard to reach. Interesting projects include an innovative solution to prevent glacier runoff at a gold mine in Chile. Other applications include military use, slope stabilization and the refurbishment of existing concrete structures.

There is a broad range of possibilities for this material and Brewin and Crawford have been awarded numerous accolades including the 2009 MEDIUM Award for Material of the Year and the Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas.

Installing Concrete Canvas

The Concrete Cloth shelters that Brewin and Crawford originally developed continue to wow design pundits and the public, with high hopes that at some stage these inflatable, yet incredibly durable structures will be put to use in disaster zones and in humanitarian relief work. Click here to take a look:

Images supplied by Kaytech:

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