Final Crit Feedback

Although the final crit was a bit of a blur, we fortunately had somebody to take notes from the critics. One major point of difference to our design was that it was a parasitic shelter that needed to attach to its surrounding environment as opposed to a stand alone structure. We therefore needed to use a method of connection to enable the shelter to attach. This was in the form of suspension, using guy ropes to pull out or manipulate it in the way we desired. This was a point the critics were interested in. Why was it suspended? There was concern about the overhead rope and the way it was anchored in the middle of the room, it might cause somebody to trip over it…The lower rope on the structure prevented easy access…Was there some way to do it without the suspension element?

But the critics could see the potential in the design in the way that it could be added to so that it grew and expanded. We had added the paper template of the module to the package to allow for this possibility, to give the user the opportunity to take material from their own inventory and build on the original. We also acknowledged that if we had the time to look at other materials, it might have been possible to find something with enough structural integrity that it might be able to support itself.

The slightly resistant and challenging nature of the shelter meant that we had to work out quite carefully the optimum way to suspend it to create the effect we wanted. However, we thought that it would be quite possible to suggest a number of ways to suspend it depending on the spatial condition of the user. Despite not much initial success with the experiment with a corner wall, we knew that it could be resolved with more time. We decided to use computer imaging to suggest other possible ways it could be hung.

From left to right, original in situ, a hovering shelter acting more as a roof, set up in the corner, lastly the shelter is inverted to create a larger canopy for a more encompassing feel.

in situ options

Turning Full Circle…

At the beginning of the semester, in anticipation of designing our own kitset shelter, we undertook an in-depth analysis of our own domestic environments. We recorded our food, water and electricity consumption over 72 hours, created an inventory of our possessions (some of which was anticipated could be incorporated into our kitset shelter design), and did a risk analysis of our home and environment.

One of the most fascinating projects from the early part of the semester was producing a developed surface drawing of three of the rooms in our home. This type of 18th century architectural drawing prioritized the surface condition of an interior space, effectively disregarding the structural components of the building. The resulting drawing resembled a gift box with the sides folded down; the interior surfaces were exposed and beautifully rendered. 

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(http://www.aadip9.net/manijeh/2011/02/new-ideas-wip.html)

Robert Adam’s 1761 ‘section’ of the Great Hall at Syon House

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Robin Evans explains, in his essay The Developed Surface, that ‘the developed surface interior… disrupts the continuity of the space it represents. cuts have to be made between adjoining walls so as to splay them flat. To read the room as an enclosed space it is necessary to mentally fold the walls up out of the paper.’

Looking back at the process of designing our kitset shelter it is nice to see echoes of this first drawing project in our final structure. We have been guided by the idea of the folding of the structure; modules which fold out and up and under in order to join together recall the folding out of the walls to expose the interior surface of the developed surface drawing. We have also endeavoured to expose the elements of the structure which would normally be carefully concealed; just as the developed surface drawing ‘exposes’ the interior surface of domestic space, so too does our kitset shelter design expose the connections which make up its whole.

Putting a Lid on it…

While we had a very clear vision for the packaging element of our project, we were stumped when it came to how the lid of the box connects with the rest. We had envisioned the packaging as kind of gift box, and a lid that would entirely lift off would echo this notion; but how do we then attach this type of lid tightly and securely to the body of the box whilst in transit?

We tried split pins that were poked from the inside of the box through holes in the lid and then secured on the outside – but this was far too fiddly and unreliable. As there are corresponding holes in the box to the ones on the lid we thought about using cable ties – but the obvious problem with this is that you would need scissors to cut off the ties, and the scissors were IN the box… Next we experimented with the same cord that was used to suspend the structure; we liked the connotation to the ribbon that is often used to fasten gift boxes, and the continuity of materials used in the shelter itself. Many combinations of threading the cord through the lid and box were tried, but we just didn’t come across any way of threading and weaving that would both secure the lid and be easy to open.

Experimenting with the cord led us to realise that the best way to secure the tabs on the lid flat against the body of the box was to somehow tie the ends of the cord at the bottom of the box… Feeling quite frustrated at this point, some bright spark (thanks Deborah!) suggested we use elastic instead of the cord. EUREKA! While not strictly a material used in the shelter, we managed to find a black elastic that very closely resembled the black cord we had used.

Tying a flattened rivet to to the end of the elastic cord so that it doesn’t pull through the holes in the lid

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Threading the elastic cord through the holes in the lid, so that the rivet sits against the interior of the lid

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Exterior view of the cord through the lid

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View of the kitset shelter packaging with all the elastic lengths in place

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The elastic cord is then stretched around the box to secure the lid in place

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View of the base of the box

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All in all a very successful and pleasing solution to the problem, creating a tight and secure connection to the rest of the box (and you can play a tune on it if you get bored!) We are very happy with it!