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I've seen several concrete countertops and floors made of colored and/or polished concrete they look quite beautiful and nothing like the old gray concrete.
A little while ago I read about another interesting use of concrete in building emergency shelter & was able to dig up the reference. It's the "building in a bag" idea:
The structure is intended to improve upon two current methods of providing emergency shelter: tents, which provide only poor protection, or prefabricated, portable buildings that are expensive and difficult to transport. Dubbed the Concrete Canvas, the shelter incorporates the best aspects of both forms. It is almost as easy to transport as a tent, but is as durable and secure as a portable building.
The inventors are engineers pursuing a master's degree in industrial design engineering at the Royal College of Art in London. William Crawford and Peter Brewin came up with the idea when they were thinking of an entry for the annual British Cement Association competition for new and innovative uses of concrete.
To see a picture click here.
The "shelter" problem is one I give my students each year ! In 2006 we might be working with ASF (Architectes Sans Frontières) on the topic!
There's no easy answers, as we all know that the blue ONU tents are still there 10 years after... So with a more permanent structure it would be the start of a "favella".
The point is to think in two phases, urgency and recovery of a local built tissue. The two are often very contradictory in space, volumes and wastes !
Because some good work have been done in favellas studies, the tendency today would be to design an urgency module (6 to 10 people) that could be used as the core of a future housing (simple or multi storied) that could be built by locals, with local materials and industry (we could help there too).
Drainages and future streets or accesses could be designed as 2 over-crossing weaves with common points.
The main point is that after the initial response (mostly military as they have the means to do it), there is a 10 years development program getting locals to work after the first year ( mourning, healing, family recomposing, etc...), with economical initiatives ( agricultural, fishing, small developments, etc...)!
Water plants and final draining being done in the first two years!
Well, that's the main scheme :-)
And it allows for a good level of complexity in architecture and in prefabricated techniques (core structure in fiber concrete, fillings in compressed earth, etc..!), while keeping the local knowledge and style and getting back people to work quickly (assisted syndrome) !
"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
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