Students are trialling a more sustainable method of forming concrete that could cut its carbon footprint by a third.
Instead of using traditional rigid timber and steel forms to cast the material, experts use soft, flexible textile fabric to shape concrete pillars, walls and beams.
Concrete is poured into flexible fabrics that allow it to set into organic, architecturally interesting and structurally efficient shapes while maintaining the required accuracy.
Changing the shape of a concrete column from a traditional cylindrical shape into one that tapers at its waist, can significantly increase the load the same amount of concrete can bear.
There are potentially great opportunities for this to be used in more mainstream constructions, but it requires a shift of practice. It is not a universal panacea. There will always be conditions where one would use rigid formworks to make certain things. But for a lot of standard components such as beams, walls and columns it is quite possible to find other solutions.
The University has created a one-year Masters programme in Material Practice as a result of the research.
The course lets students design and cast materials using concrete, textiles, metal and glass, and helps them explore the materials’ potential.
ESALA’s work is one part of world-leading Edinburgh’s environmentally sustainable research. Staff have secured more than £50 million over the last seven years to fund work on climate science, emissions mitigation and sustainable solutions.
For details about this project and to find out more how the University is influencing and informing the global climate change debate, visit Edinburgh Action for the Climate.