Picture a tent that could be dropped from a helicopter and kept aloft by balloons with computer-controlled rotors attached. It might sound like some kind of offbeat interactive media installation, but Canadian designer Richard Kuchinsky imagines his structure more practically: as a cheap, easy-to-deploy emergency shelter.
Kuchinksy's "balloon tent pop-up shelter" is just one submission to a contest by design site Core 77, which, in light of last month's Haiti earthquake, has tasked designers with creating innovative short-term shelters. Submissions for the site's latest "one-hour design challenge" will be accepted through February 28, but the Core 77 online submission forum is already hopping with some highly creative solutions to a pressing problem.
Kuchinsky found inspiration for his balloon tent pop-up shelter in the Dymaxion manufactured-housing-unit concept by Buckminster Fuller. The floating tent could be moved as needed and could even sport graphic markings to help identify triage wards, organizations, or families from air or land.
Michael DiTullo of Massachusetts suggests a "super obvious, but maybe so obvious it could work" approach: a giant umbrella with a center shaft that doubles as a fireplace. Side skirts could be fastened to the lip of the roof to create the equivalent of tent walls.
The structure might need to be tied down like a tent for stability in winds, DiTullo notes, but could ship easily in planes, trucks, or trains.
Other ideas submitted so far include a foldable, pop-out shelter that forms 10 or more contiguous waterproof compartments, and an inflatable inner tube of sorts that could provide floating refuge during floods. From inside, the inhabitants could lift a support rod, which would uncoil a tent to function as a roof, with the tube itself serving as a back support cushion. … Read more