Kirill Volchinskiy

Kirill Volchinskiy

San Francisco, CA, US


Geodesic Refugee Shelter


All too often,a humanitarian relief effort will take longer than it is estimated and require more funding than estimated. All too often, the refugee camps created during such an effort become overcrowded and permanent, when they were designed to be temporary. The result of this is the creation of slums, dysentery, a negative impact on the environment and an avoidable death toll on the population of the camp.

This design proposal is meant to bridge the gap between traditional refugee camps in areas of conflict and “EarthShip” (autonomous, low-impact, permanent) structures often found experimental activist communities; not where they are required most.



Based on Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic dome construction, this structure is able to scale up to house schools and administrative complexes, reliving the weight from walls or any other load-bearing support structure, saving weight and materials. What this also provides is the ability to have an open configuration of interior walls—supporting open planning. Furthermore, by connecting several of such buildings together, the sharing of resources and collective waste disposal becomes possible, creating community. 



It is requisite for such a design to be able to adapt to the requirements of any environment and any population. Everything besides the geodesic dome itself and the bathroom can and will be manufactured on location. The walls inside of the building can be made out of any suitable material, including compressed cardboard, adobe, or salvaged aluminum.The nature of the geodesic dome allows for windows to be created in various points in the dome, making the orientation of the building with respect to North not so important as the orientation of the windows. By opening the windows on the north and south elevations of the building, the exposure to the sun is controlled not by the de-facto orientation of the building but by the inhabitants of the house, adapting this design to extreme climates without compromising the layout of the structures in a community.



By its very own nature the geodesic dome is a concave structure, meaning it reflects any radiation coming from the outside while radiating the heat coming from within back into itself. This allows for an easier maintenance of temperature within the structure. Especially important in extreme climates and economic environments where it is impractical to provide heating and/or air conditioning, this feature is vital to a design that is aimed at accommodating a refugee population. 

The dome covers the structure in a way that allows for a buffer of cold air to surround the actual structure. Protecting the air from heat, the dome covers the structure itself and the area around it. The smaller perforations in the wall vertical, circular wall surrounding the structure invite the cooler air in, while the windows in the same wall allow for the warmer air to escape into the buffer. This volume of cool, slow moving air maintains the temperature inside the building, insulating it from whatever is presently happening outside.

To further give control to the structure's inhabitants, the top of the dome houses a reflective system which reflects the light at specific angles into various rooms. When light is desired, the mirrors are pivoted into their optimal positions, whereas if and when this is not necessary, the same area can house photovoltaic cells.

The house also features a rain-collection system which channels water into the area above the bathroom. This feature is optional; that area can also function as additional storage for the house. 

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: World Wide