Tough tents win design award

A “building-in-a-bag” that can be deployed in disaster areas and consists of concrete-impregnated fabric has won a major design award.

Concrete Canvas won the fourth Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas in New York yesterday.

The brainchild of Royal College of Art Industrial Design Engineering graduates Peter Brewin and Will Crawford, Concrete Canvas is developing sturdy, long-lasting shelters for disaster-hit regions.

The £25,000 prize was awarded to what the judges dubbed a ‘timely and poignant winner in the context of recent devastating earthquake in Pakistan and the tsunami a year ago”.

The concept, dubbed ‘a building in a bag’, consists of concrete-impregnated fabric in a plastic bag. Water, which doesn’t have to be measured as it is restricted by the size of the bag, is added. The shelter is then pumped up with air and sets, ready for use, within 12 hours. Once erected, the structure has a minimum design life of 10 years.

At the moment, the concept has been proved with 1/8-scale prototypes, but full-scale models are planned to go into production within a year.

Standard tents have proven inadequate for disaster survivors in areas hit by adverse weather. In Afghanistan, it has been estimated that the useable life of fabric tents has been as little as three weeks.