GRC - Glass Reinforced Concrete

After my "Building of Roca Gallery" tour I got very interested in GRC - Glass Reinforced Concrete, the material Zaha Hadid team specified for interior and exterior curved panels of the gallery. Here is some information about the material.

From GRCUK website:

Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) or Glassfibre Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) is used on many of the world's largest and most prestigious construction and infrastructure projects. The ability of the material to be formed into virtually any size, shape or finish and it's unique combination of high strength, low weight and environmental benefits ensure it's growing popularity with many internationally renowned architects and engineers.

History of GRC

Experiments to reinforce concrete with glass fibre were first carried out in the late 1940s at the same time as research to reinforce resins and plastics with the same material.These were unsuccessful due to the alkaline nature of the cement attacking and breaking down the fibres.
The problem was solved in the mid 1960s with the development of alkaline resistant glass fibres containing a high level of zirconium dioxide. As with most modern composites the process of blending the fibres throughout the matrix provided substantially increased tensile, flexural and impact strength. This allowed manufacturers to produce very thin (10-15mm) sections with resultant savings in component weight.
GRC was primarily used as a cladding material however its development coincided with the decline in the UK of this type of construction and a return to more traditional architecture. As a consequence the primary application of the material in the UK was in civil engineering and rail applications.  Throughout the rest of the world GRC became more widely accepted as an expression of architectural design.

GRC Today
Today GRC is used by many of the world's leading building designers with internationally renowned architects such as Fosters & Partners and Zaha Hadid regularly specifying the material.
The advantages of GRC are obvious. Products can be made in virtually any size, shape, colour and texture. Both rectilinear and complex curvilinear profiles can be created which would, simply either not be possible, or prohibitively expensive in more traditional forms of pre-cast concrete. The relatively lightweight of GRC components mean they can be easily installed and reduce considerably the imposed dead weight on a building structure.
Sustainability is also an area where GRC can provide significant benefits. World production of cement accounts for approximately 5% of the world's Co² emissions. Although GRC is cement rich in composition the lightweight nature of the composite reduces actual cement content considerably. As a result most building constructed with GRC claddings rather than traditional pre-cast concrete deliver significantly lower BREAM or LEED ratings.
With such obvious advantages it is little wonder many of today's largest construction projects feature the use of GRC. In the UK the Olympic Village has featured extensive use of GRC and the material will feature on all the new stations being constructed as part of the massive Crossrail development.