An innovative concrete shelter designed at the Royal College of Art for rapid deployment in disaster relief areas has won the 2006 Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas.
The brainchild of RCA Industrial Design Engineering graduates Peter Brewin and William Crawford, Concrete Canvas beat off entries from all over the world to scoop the prestigious prize, which was announced in January 2006 in New York.
A high-profile judging panel, which included such names as Edward de Bono, Philip Glass, Baz Luhrmann, Lou Reed and Oliviero Toscani, was clearly impressed with the idea in the aftermath of such natural disasters as the Tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake and the flooding of New Orleans.
Concrete Canvas has been dubbed the 'building in a bag'. The concept originated when Brewin and Crawford met as MA students. A sack of cement-impregnated fabric is flown to the disaster area and is erected by adding water and then inflating with air. Twelve hours later the shelter is dried out and ready for use. The innovation represents a significant advance on canvas shelters as it is more robust and secure and can be used to create a sterile field hospital.
The US $100,000 Saatchi & Saatchi award is the latest in a series of accolades for the RCA duo. Concrete Canvas has already won a number of prizes, among them the main award for socially inclusive design in the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre's Design for our Future Selves programme.
The business community has also shown interest. Investors have been attracted, and Brewin and Crawford recently made a successful appearance on the BBC TV programme Dragon's Den.
Concrete Canvas is a patent-protected RCA Selected Work and a spin-out company has been set up to develop the technology, in which the College retains an equity share.