Element of Delight Iteration

While still experimenting with the geodesic domes, we thought about incorporating some special panels within some of the triangles which make up the triangular forms of the roof. If we could somehow incorporate the building paper cut into patterns, we could sandwich it between a sturdier material and create a kind of laminated aperture, through which light could project patterns into the shelter.









Cutting patterns into the building paper and testing if the pattern’s shadow would project onto a neighbouring surface.

framedsun through








Covering one side with a green rubbish bag to add colour.

green light


Lonnie Hutchinson

Before Sunrise 2010 Lonnie Hutchinson

When designing the kitset shelter we are always mindful of ensuring it is both a practical and user-friendly structure but also something that evokes an element of beauty. The person inhabiting the shelter needs to be inspired and comforted by the dwelling and we hope to incorporate an aspect of delight into the shelter design itself and not as an addition.

An artist that came to mind who has done beautiful work using a utilitarian material is Maori/Samoan artist Lonnie Hutchinson. Before Sunrise is a work with black building paper which Hutchinson has intricately cut by hand to create a delicate lacelike filigree. Samoan and Maori motifs are repeated patterns and resemble veils or skirts, symbolising the Seven Sisters of the Taurus Constellation.

Before Sunrise 2010 2before sunrise 2010






The hand cut patterns are incredible when one thinks of how much time it might have taken to make, and the shadows that reflect onto the wall add to the beauty of the work. The building paper is no longer a simply functional two dimensional material but a work of art.


Building Paper Waterproofing Test

Our investigations into origami folding led us to research alternatives to paper for use in the shelter. One idea was to use building paper as it could be folded and easily manipulated while being more weather proof and sturdier than standard paper.

Testing a splash of water on a piece of the bituminous black paper was an interesting exercise, within the space of half an hour, the amount of water had noticeably decreased without soaking through to the other side of the paper.

























We are now interested to see how much water the building paper might be able to withstand but it is a successful result for an initial test. We are also confident in the material due to its use in construction where the paper is used as a moisture barrier in wall cavities and even as temporary protection against the weather before cladding walls.

The Concept of Shelter

The Oxford English Dictionary defines shelter as:

1. (noun) a place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger                                    a place providing food and accommodation for the homeless;                                                                      an animal sanctuary

2. (mass noun) a shielded or safe condition; protection

Our concept of shelter is two-fold; not only is it a physical space which provides a dry, secure and stable environment for the inhabitant but, and perhaps more importantly, it is a space which presents a psychological refuge from external threats, acting as a protective shield to envelop the occupant and hold them safe.

Our approach to this brief was to create a structure that provided an element of respite and relief from the outside world. We felt it was important to design a shelter that would allow the user to withdraw into their own personal and private space; something that is not often readily available in a post-disaster environment. We hope that by creating an opportunity for the user to remove themselves from an overwhelming and distressing situation, even if only for a few moments, it might encourage the user to take time for reflection and psychological recovery.


The Folding Dome

Our kitset shelter needs to be reasonably simple and quick to construct. Keeping in mind size restrictions, we began exploring the feasibility of pre-assembling the isosceles triangles into pentagons. By leaving one edge unfixed, the pentagon will be able to fold in on itself and fit within the size parameters.

Pre-assembled pentagon folded up.


Starting to unfold…


The pentagon fully extended. The final edge can then be joined onsite.






“Temporary housing, like any human living areas, are not just made up of houses, but also of people who live in them. It is not only [a] physical man-made structure and a place, but also [a] spiritual and social space… Therefore, a temporary house has importance not just as shelter from the elements, but also as a shelter for social, spiritual and psychological needs”

Farzaneh Hadafi, and Alireza Fallahi, “Temporary Housing Respond to Disasters in Developing Countries – Case Study: Iran-Ardabil and Lorestan Province Earthquakes.”

Buckminster Fuller and the Geodesic Dome

Buckminster Fuller was an American architect and inventor, most notably know for the design of the Geodesic Dome; a spherical building based on Fuller’s theories of ‘energetic-synergetic geometry’. Through his designs, Fuller sought to ‘find ways of doing more with less’ and his development of the Geodesic Dome was widely hailed as ‘a possible solution to world housing shortages.’




“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller

(In-text quotes – http://www.scientificoptimism.com/)

Modular Shelter

While searching the internet for ‘Origami, modular shelters’ we came across a project called Shelter by Andrew Chadwick – a structure consisting of triangular, cardboard modules adapted from the geometry of Architect Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome; ‘The work is a retreat from the world in which an individual is able to feel cocooned and protected. ‘Shelter’ is a space which offers a temporary freedom from productive activity, where we are able to expand our imagination. For Chadwick, it should be viewed as a mental laboratory space for an individual to generate ideas. Whilst appearing functionless (in the artist’s words, it is “a sculpture, not a ‘useful’ space”) ‘Shelter’ is a room clearly set aside for contemplation. Chadwick’s central aim is “to build a private thinking space: an empty space in which to focus”. His title directs us towards generic ideas of dwelling: it leaves open the range of associations we are able to bring’ (http://www.ngca.co.uk/docs/Andrew%20Chadwick.pdf).


(Image – http://www.ngca.co.uk/home/default.asp?id=116)

The simplicity of construction is quite beautiful, and the use of cardboard for the triangular modules echoes parameters set within our own studio brief – that the kitset shelter must incorporate materials sourced from the domestic interior; I’m pretty sure everyone has more than a few cardboard boxes lying around at home!

Thinking that a modular cardboard Geodesic Dome may be an avenue to explore with regards to our own shelter design, we started searching the internet for other examples….

Oscar Tuazon ‘Coming Soon’ 2002


(Image – http://www.portlandart.net/archives/2008/07/opportunity_is.html)

Steven Morgana’s ‘How Much Does Your Building Weigh?
It seems that the Geodesic Dome is a very popular design, with people making their own to use, among other things, as cheap playhouses and home-made planetariums. There also seems to be many different ways of putting one together, so the next step in our Geodesic Dome exploration is to brush up on our maths and find a pattern that we understand!