The project focuses on a new type of disaster shelter inspired by origami that uses a balloon to self-deploy in most terrains.
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When disaster strikes, one of the most pressing concerns is how to quickly house a large number of people made suddenly homeless. It can take time to transport temporary shelters to the areas of greatest need – time that can cost lives. We have already seen innovative approaches to building shelters, such as shelters made from sustainable materials and a flat-pack home. Now, three Polish designers have created a design for a new type of large-scale, portable shelter. Dubbed the Skyshelter.zip, the entire structure folds up. This allows it to be packaged into a relatively small box, suitable for transport by helicopter.
Once on location, the Skyshelter is anchored to the ground and deployed using a load-bearing helium balloon. As the balloon inflates, the entire structure unfolds and is pulled upward. The walls are made up of fabric attached to 3D-printed slab walls. Structural steel wires help the structure resist wind. When no longer needed, the Skyshelter can be folded down and taken away. Another advantage of the Skyshelter is its small footprint. This means that little work is needed to clear ground for the shelter, and it can be erected even in densely populated areas.
The Skyshelter can be configured to include first aid areas, housing, and even a vertical farm that uses soil gathered during the anchoring process. The height of the structure can serve as a beacon, letting displaced people know where they can find shelter. The designers also suggest embedding the external walls with solar cells. This would allow the building to produce its own energy. The balloon at the top of the structure is designed to allow rainwater to flow through a hollow core, where it is filtered and collected. The design recently won the annual eVolo Skyscraper competition. There are currently no plans to put it into production as of yet. Could an origami-like structure be a practical and economic disaster shelter?