An inflatable concrete shelter might sound implausible, but that's exactly what UK-based Concrete Canvas Ltd brought to the market nearly 15 years ago.
Having invented the revolutionary concept during their time in university, the company’s co-Directors, Will Crawford and Peter Brewin have since cultivated a company that exports worldwide and employs over 50 people.
Having gained millions of views on YouTube and coverage on the Discovery Channel, the Concrete Canvas Shelters (CCS) became a stepping stone for the company’s success and its journey to becoming the multi-million-pound entity it is today.
The shelters were originally developed for use as a humanitarian disaster relief solution - a rapidly deployable shelter would be ideal for emergency medical facilities, shelter and accommodation.
However, in developing the shelters for commercial production, the inventors discovered that the material itself had much greater potential as an erosion protection product within the civil sector.
The outer material of the Shelter, named Concrete Canvas® is a concrete-filled geotextile which hardens into a solid concrete layer within just 24 hours of being sprayed with water.
Crawford and Brewin began commercial volume production of Concrete Canvas® (CC) in September 2009. A short time later, the company carried out the first field trial installation of CC for Network Rail as a channel lining solution in Chipping Sodbury. The material was installed by Amalgamated Construction (AMCO), lining a 100m ditch in less than 8 hours.
The material was delivered in batched rolls which were cut to the required length and easily moved around on-site by two people. There was no need for vehicle access, no mixing trucks or heavy machinery for moving materials and AMCO used little more than ground pegs, a hammer and adhesive sealant for the installation.
From a University competition-winning concept had come a material which could be installed by a novice with no more than some written instructions.
The company now
Ten years on, CC has been installed for applications including channel lining, weed suppression and concrete remediation in over 80 countries worldwide.
From the civil sectors to the agriculture, mining and petrochemical industries, CC and CC Hydro™ - the company’s second material, released in 2015 for containment applications - are gaining market acceptance as a concrete alternative.
CC is even used by designers who love experimenting with this one-of-a-kind material.
CC and CCH are now classed as Geosynthetic Cementitious Composite Mats and Barriers respectively (GCCMs and GCCBs).
The materials have recently been certified by the British Board of Agrément; Concrete Canvas® now has certified durability of up to 120 years, while CCH has 50-year durability. These new certifications further cement the products' places within their respective markets as 'one to watch'.