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Why waterproofing with surface membranes is obsolete thinking


A local issue making headlines in Vancouver is the destruction of the gardens above Robson Square in the heart of downtown.


Robson Square was designed by world renowned architect Arthur Erickson in the 1970s. The public plaza includes buildings that house the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Law Courts, and the University of British Columbia’s downtown campus. The development covers three entire city blocks and, in the style of Erickson, is built almost entirely from concrete. The gardens adorn the public spaces and were designed by landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander.


In recent years, the gardens have leaked into the buildings below due to the failure of the original concrete waterproofing membrane. Contractors arrived a few days ago and removed the garden vegetation as their first step toward accessing and replacing the failed membrane. Unfortunately, many beautiful mature trees were cut down in the process and local citizens are quite upset over their loss.


Today, experienced designers and builders know that for most concrete waterproofing applications, surface applied concrete waterproofing membranes are no longer the best concrete waterproofing technology available. Even newer, more advanced membrane systems are just improvements on an obsolete technology.


The new and much more effective way to build waterproof concrete structures is with crystalline integral waterproofing. Crystalline waterproofing makes the concrete itself into the membrane. It cannot be punctured or damaged and never wears out. Concrete Cracks will self-seal and if concrete repairs do become needed, they can be accomplished from the negative side.


In the case of the Robson Square gardens, had this technology been applied, repairs would likely be unnecessary or made from below. The gardens might have been left undisturbed.

Of course, this is neither Erickson’s nor Oberlander’s fault. When they designed Robson Square, crystalline waterproofing was still in its infancy and the crystalline admixture had yet to be invented by Kryton. However, today, designers and builders do not have that excuse. We now have the tools and methods available to waterproof concrete structures from the inside out.


This is the way that waterproof concrete structures are built today. Are you still doing it the old way?

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