Architects are called upon to build society’s greatest structures. We marvel at the museums, performing arts centers and spaces of worship that dot the globe and represent the peculiarities of the world’s many cultures. Yet, at the core of the roles and responsibilities of the architect lies a calling for a far more elemental human need: shelter.
This doesn’t imply that architects are always involved in the creation of all the forms that shelter takes. However, a deep understanding of how people dwell provides an appreciation of the diversity, resilience, alacrity of the human race. The Human Shelter, a documentary about what people value or “need” in their lives, ties into a fundamental quality that any architect would be foolish not to cultivate: the ability to listen and perceive what makes people feel at home.
Reinterpreting the teachings of Buckminster Fuller, North Face have announced the latest tent in their collection; a geodesic dome tent. Thanks to the most spatially efficient shape in architecture, it can withstand winds of up to 60 mph as the force is spread evenly across the structure whilst even providing enough height for a six-foot person to stand comfortably inside.
The extremely efficient design has allowed the tent to weigh not much more than 11kg and comprise of 5 main poles and the equator for fast and easy assembly and storage. The outdoor gear company has also considered a water-resistant dual-layered exterior skin for their incredibly strong and sturdy tent to endure whatever mother nature has to throw at it.
Christian Weber, a 20-plus year veteran of the Burning Man festival has learned a few tricks on the Playa. Shelter from the harsh Black Rock Desert winds, heat, dust and cold nights are attributes of an experienced camp. “Every year we unload our camp out of the container and use our container as our kitchen. It literally has fold-down tables [and] air conditioning… and when we’re all done, we throw it back in the container and it’s ready to go for next year.”
Stockholm-based architecture firm Utopia Arkitekter has designed Skýli, they are bright blue cabins that are popping up in one of the world's most beautiful landscape. The idea came from a desire to develop a structure which could be easily placed along some of the most famous trekking trails in Iceland. Not only are the lodges striking and beautiful in itself, they can be easily constructed and are built to withstand the harshest weather conditions.
At an altitude of 3,800 meters, Ice-Age architects have designed and produced a compact and lightweight shelter as the last base before climbers venture up Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Europe. Inspired by Buckminster Fuller's 2V geodesic dome, it can sleep up to 16 people as they acclimatize to the altitude and wait for the appropriate weather for the climb.
Bee Breeders have selected winners of the Stone Barn Meditation Camp competition, seeking to create a place of refuge for individuals amidst the pristine natural beauty of one of Latvia’s most remote regions. In announcing the competition results, the jury applauded the respect and regard shown to the environment by submitted schemes, commenting that the most successful projects stood out for their simplicity, elegance, and balance with nature.
Costa Rican architect César Oreamuno has designed a modular capsule that accommodates to the basic needs of a community after a state of emergency or disaster. The units are adaptable and easily assembled in order to account for a variety of situations and respond to a series of unique functions, although the main theme of the project is focused on improving the quality of attention towards the basic needs of crisis victims, as well as encouraging the development of the community.
Launched in 2007, The Buckminster Fuller Challenge has quickly gained a reputation for being what Metropolis Magazine once called “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award.” This year, for the first time, a Student Category was reviewed separately from the general applications, however still based upon the same criteria: comprehensiveness, feasibility, replicability, ecological responsibility, and how verifiable and anticipatory the project is. Students from the Centre for Human Habitat and Alternative Technology (CHHAT) claimed the prize with their adaptable and lightweight modular domes, made from natural, local or recycled materials.
In light of recent refugee crises, Belgium-based architecture and engineering firm DMOA has become involved with The Maggie Program, an initiative to improve refugee shelter, education, and health through a new building concept.
Because most countries only allow for temporary settlements for refugees, the project centers around the Maggie Shelter, a temporary tent-like structure, that functions as a more substantial, fixed building.
First-year architecture and urban planning students at the Estonian Academy of Arts have designed and created READER, a shelter based on the concept of removal from daily life, and focusing on oneself. Passers-by are invited to enter the shelter and “escape from the real world of problems into the fictional world of books.” And for those who don’t have a book on hand, the structure is meant to evoke the pages of a book through its ribbed wooden structure.
Shelter is a basic human need, but over 11 million families cannot afford a safe and stable place to live. In a crusade to change this sad fact, the Enterprise Rose Fellowship gives socially-minded architects the tools they need to pursue careers in affordable housing and community development. For more on the learning opportunity, head over to Next City and click here.
Max Wallack, a 12 year old from Natick, has just won WGBH’s Design Squad “Trash to Treasure” design contest with his “Home Dome” invention, which is a shelter for the homeless, built with just plastic, wire and packing peanuts. The structure is in the form of a Mongolian yurt and includes a built-in bed.
For his winning design, Max won $10,000, a Dell laptop and a trip to Boston to see how his design becomes real. The “Home Dome” was selected as the winning innovation out of more than 1,000 contest submissions.