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What is Concrete Canvas?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky

Concrete Canvas is a British brand name for a revolutionary concept known generically as concrete cloth. Concrete Canvas is referred to as a “building in a bag,” which only needs air and water to complete construction. Some people scoffed at the idea but these structures have proven to be durable and incredibly useful. Consider the convenience of such a product in a disaster area, refugee camp, or war zone.

A tent-like structure made of concrete obviously provides far more protection than even the highest quality tent. Prefabricated metal buildings have been used in situations where Concrete Canvas is likely to be used, but the former are not only expensive material and delivery wise, they also require more time and trouble to construct. Concrete Canvas structures only take about 12 hours to construct and be ready to use.

Man with a backpack
Man with a backpack

The bag Concrete Canvas comes in is filled with water and then inflated with air. No measuring is required as the volume of the bag is limited. Just fill, inflate, and use. These Concrete Canvas structures look similar to igloo shaped tents but when complete, they offer the protection of concrete. Even better, Concrete Canvas offers a sterile option, which will undoubtedly prove to be a huge benefit for field hospitals.

Another benefit is the affordability of Concrete Canvas. For about a third of the cost of many other structures, this product provides much more in terms of convenience and durability. As compared to tents in price, Concrete Canvas structures cost about twice as much as the typical tent used in similar situations, but there is no comparison in terms of sturdiness or protection. Tents can be torn, cut, and burned and they often leak, while Concrete Canvas does not share these vulnerabilities.

Two engineering students from London, who have since patented the idea, are the developers. The concept has won awards and is likely to win more. The two have traveled to such places as refugee camps to demonstrate Concrete Canvas, which is incidentally, what motivated them to market it. It was originally developed for a contest.

The United Nations as well as non-governmental and other aid agencies are interested in and impressed by Concrete Canvas. Clearly, it could also be very useful in military construction as well. Aside from field use, there are potential practical domestic applications as well. Even homeowners have shown interest in this product for use as possible storm shelters.

Discussion Comments


Concrete Canvas seems like a really neat idea. With the American public now fascinated by the de-clutter and pare-down method of keeping house – with news programs highlighting people who live in houses smaller than some cheap New York City apartments,

I’m surprised Concrete Canvas has not caught on more quickly. They even offer a house-sized dome of about 172 square feet that can be ready in just over 12 hours. For disaster victims and for those wanting to experience a non-material-based lifestyle, it seems Concrete Canvas could really capitalize on marketing to these groups.

However, I’m not sure how sturdy concrete shelters would be in a war zone. Though they offer better protection than tents, they are certainly just as easily destroyed by bombs and the like – perhaps Concrete Canvas should consider some outer coating option to help deflect war zone attacks?

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      Man with a backpack