Sunday, March 19, 2006


Portable Structures

Innovations make structures design and construction more versatile and less expensive.

What do the Pentagon, an egg and the Brits have in common? It turns out quite a lot more than scrambled eggs for breakfast, in fact.

Two British engineers have developed Concrete Canvas, a rapidly deployable hardened shelter that requires only water and air for construction. Stuffing a building into a bag is no easy task, nor is erecting a concrete structure in less than an hour. But Peter Brewin and William Crawford have figured out the way, by observing the compressive ceramic structure of an egg. Concrete Canvas is a sack of cement-impregnated fabric that morphs into an emergency shelter with the addition of two simple ingredients: air and water.

The hut can be deployed by a single untrained person in less than an hour. The builder fills the sack with water, then inflates it. The hut hardens and is ready for use just 12 hours later. The objective is to facilitate quick assembly of structures that are much stronger and more durable than tents. And the applications are varied: for one thing the military is interested in the Canvas for food and equipment field storage. Its rapid deployment, strength and durability have captured the military’s attention. Additionally, the insulating characteristics of concrete make the Canvas suitable for setting first-aid, emergency shelters as well.

On the other side of the spectrum there is SYSTEMarchitects, an American firm from New York City, inventors of the Parish House, a computer-generated kit home. The Parish House is a new approach to an old idea first introduced in 1908 by Sears Roebuck. It is a three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,000 square feet bungalow whose structural system consists of 1,100 pieces of laser-cut plywood. There are no posts, no beams, no nails. The pieces of plywood are assembled and held together by a series of stainless steel fasteners.

Ease of assembly and time-saving are the two main characteristics: the boards can be cut locally and shipped to the construction site on two flatbed trucks. Cost in the USD $180’s.

Luigi Frascati

As Featured On Ezine Articles Platinum Author

Real Estate Chronicle

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