Translated Geometries AutoShelter


LOCATION: Barcelona, Spain

SUMMARY: "Physical spaces are static and not optimized to their context. Our initiative is a transformable, transportable envelope able to adjust to constantly changing users' needs. Offering an optimized design to environmental conditions it generates a self-sustainable system. Thus, it constitutes a dynamic sheltering solution to evolving heterotopic spaces, like refugee-camps."

PROBLEM SPACE: "Among different potential applications, we focus on the pilot application: Shelter.
There are more than 50 million displaced people worldwide, due to conflicts, climate change and natural disasters, finding shelter in refugee camps.
The vast majority has poor access to energy (0.2KWh), which in turn leads to limited education, healthcare and social activities. Considering that the population of a camp can reach hundreds thousand inhabitants, the yearly cost that humanitarian agencies have to bear for diesel generators accounts for millions of dollars, which in most cases is not affordable.
To avoid dependency from the authorities, displaced people seek for alternative lighting/cooking resources such as traditional biomass and kerosene, inducing irreversible environmental degradation in the surrounding area. The actual implications have to do with deforestation, air pollution (due to fire lighting and gas consumed) and deterioration of opportunities for agriculture.
Another crucial problem is the poor distribution of goods and services within the camps because of inflexible planning. Long distances to schools, ration distribution and medical centers makes them inaccessible.
For the aforementioned reasons, violence arises between refugees and their hosts. The lack of security and short lifespan of tents has been reported an important parameter to improve refugees' dignity."

SOLUTION: "Our initiative proposes an adjustable sheltering structure, which can form itself into various real-time configurations upon users' needs. Its flexibility allows it to be optimized to numerous parameters such as thermal comfort, ventilation, space distribution, number of users and potential uses (households, schools, medical centers etc.). Besides that, its foldability enables easy packaging, facilitating transportation, and the modularity of the design makes it scalable. Hence our system can be reused in diverse scenarios and locations.
The solution derives from the properties of an existing responsive material called Shape Memory Polymer which can be transformed, upon heating, from rigid to flexible and can memorize its initial geometry. Through placing this material in critical nodes of our structure, and actuating it with an embedded heating system, we are able to trigger its deformation. These local deformations define the final overall shape by remodeling an origami-inspired pattern through folding and unfolding. To achieve the desired forms, an external actuation force is required.
The high structural performance of the aforementioned material system empowers extended applications comparing to existing lightweight-flexible systems (pneumatics and tensegrity structures).
Various prototypes have been successfully tested in the laboratory (see video below) to prove the technology."

CONTACT: Efilena Baseta, [email protected], [email protected]