20 January 2012

Ultra light weight architecture: foldable and expandable shelter, by Roberto Maffei, independent researcher

This research was not presented during the conference, but was nevertheless done in preparation of it. The IFRC SRU asked Roberto to give a clear overview of what state of the art ultra light weight architecture is, and to investigate how that could be linked to and introduced in the humanitarian sheltering sector.

“This article explains how and when lightweight architecture has developed, how it works and which are its basic principles. Structures that come ready to assemble, that can be erected and disassembled in a matter of hours and have the least impact on the natural environment, while providing adequate shelter and modern amenities, are the preoccupation of several architects whose ambitions are not only toward the micro but also to the autonomous. Most of these features are not known and that’s why, in this article, foldable and expandable architecture is shown and its features highlighted. The article continues explaining how this kind of solutions can be adapted to suit the needs of the disaster affected and some of the few applications are presented. The conclusion focuses on the weak points about the application of such structures in emergencies to foresee possible fields of improvement. A detailed bibliography about the topic is provided in annex.”

There exit many discrepancies between what the academic, design, producer and humanitarian sectors consider good sheltering. Each of these actors has expertise in a different area. If we want to address these discrepancies, and bring the different expertise together in a more profitable manner, we need to lay them open on the table. This research is one step towards rendering the state of the art in light weight architecture insightful, and enabling migration of knowledge to the humanitarian sheltering shelter.

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