“Frontier environments – such as battlefields, hostile territories, remote locations, or outer space – drive the need for lightweight, deployable structures that can be stored in a compact configuration and deployed quickly and easily in the field (Maheshwaraa et al., 2007).”
This research was conducted in 2013 at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning. This research-through-making project investigates pneumatically actuated folding architectural structures in the context of a rapidly deployable personal emergency shelter designed for use in the aftermath of a nuclear calamity. In such a disaster scenario, survivors would require immediate protection from harmful radiation. The ideal emergency shelter in this scenario would be lightweight and rapidly deployable. Given these requirements, we chose to investigate pneumatic pressure as the mechanism for deployment due to its potential for increased portability through reduced weight, and for rapid deployment of the structure by introducing air into or exhausting it from the inflatable element of the system. The culmination of the research was the development of a two-part architectural structure, consisting of a folding, planar exoskeleton combined with a pneumatic actuation system, that can be applied to the future development of rapidly deployable architectural structures and facade systems.
Location: Ann Arbor, MI, US
My Role: Designer + Fabricator
Additional Credits: Co-designed and Fabricated with Andrea Springer
Photos by Michelle Tippmann, Proper, 2013