Whether from political unrest or natural disaster, refugee crises around the world seem to fill the headlines of late. These events inspired interdisciplinary designer Abeer Seikaly’s conceptual emergency shelter, entitled “Weaving A Home,” which received a Lexus Design Award in 2013. The collapsible structural fabric shelter can adapt to various climates, while also providing the comforts of contemporary life such as heat, running water, and electricity.
Composed of high-strength plastic tubing molded into sine-wave curves and woven into a stretchable fabric membrane, the system creates “a technical, structural fabric that expands to enclose and contracts for mobility.” Due to the cellular nature of the structure, individual segments of the system can be left open to create doorways or to promote air circulation in warm weather, or all of the segments can be kept closed to retain heat in the winter.
The hollow plastic tubing creates conduits for the provision of services such as electricity and water. Seikaly even envisions the fabric of the structure converting solar radiation into electricity, and charging a battery that is integrated into the system, providing for the power needs for the shelter.
A water storage tank integrated into the apex of the dome structure provides running water within the unit, supplied by rainwater collection, or from an on-site source, and moved to the storage tank by thermosiphoning, in which the heat of the sun causes water to rise to the top of the structure.
With the potential to bring together many such shelters, the system can create a “city of refuge.” As Seikaly notes in her description of the project, “Refugees carry from their homes what they can and resettle in unknown lands, often starting with nothing but a tent to call home… In this space, the refugees find a place to pause from their turbulent worlds, a place to weave the tapestry of their new lives.”