Tetrahedron Template

Throughout the process of designing our kitset shelter, we have been thinking of ways to further include materials from the end user’s domestic interior. One way we decided we could do this was to include a template of the tetrahedron modules with the kitset; this would allow the user the opportunity to add on to the structure using materials found within their home, be it starched sheets, cardboard or other materials that can be given a bit of strength. Conversely, modules can be added that are less structured; either creating more individual pockets or a connection to the base of the structure in order to address the ground condition – perhaps a soft textile ground cover that is made up of several tetrahedrons sewn together and filled with clothes or towels to create a large pillow or mattress?

The tetrahedron module template included with the kitset

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A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place

We had been exploring the idea of creating a fold-out instructional pocket that would neatly fold up and store away within the packaging. In our minds this fold out pocket would resemble something like a fold out pencil case, or the fold out kits used by archaeologists.

Fold out pencil case

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(http://apenchantforpaper.blogspot.co.nz/2010/08/homemade-pencilpen-cases.html)

Archaeologists tool kit

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(http://www.pasthorizonstools.com/Leather_Essentials_Kit_p/etrl_01.htm)

Our first decision to make was the eventual size of our instructions, as this would determine how much space there would be left for the pockets for the tools. Originally we had imagined that there would be two fold out parcels, one for the instructions and another for the tools, but in the end we decided that a single fabric fold out would be sufficient. 

We decided that our final instructions would be A3 size, so that each diagram would be clear. With this in mind we cut a piece of felt that was 540mm wide by 690mm high – this height would allow the piece to be folded over three times. We chose to use felt in order to have continuity with our other fabric elements.

Planning the size of the instructional fold out

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We also wanted to see if stenciling labels directly onto the felt would work, but the nature of the fabric left the writing looking blurred and untidy.

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After having printed out our instructional drawings, we were able to then lay them out on the fabric and determine the size of the pocket that would hold them, along with where the rest of the pockets that will hold the cord, cable ties, split pins etc. will be placed.

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We decided to use the black felt, rather than a colour as it was a nicer contrast to the white of the instructions. It was also felt (!!!) that using the green and red colours in close proximity would perhaps encourage Christmas connotations.

Pinning the pockets, ready for sewing

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The instructions pocket was designed so that when the fabric case was unfolded the top of the instructions were clear to see

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As with the packaging and the shelter itself, all the seams and stitches were left exposed, highlighting the details which are often carefully hidden away.

The finished fold out case: a place for everything and everything in its place

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What’s in a Name…

A few of our classmates have given their kitset shelters names, so we decided that we would too. After bandying about ‘Frank‘, ‘Super Cool Kitset Tent Shelter‘ and ‘Summer Breeze‘ we decided, in a nod to Modernist Architect Eileen Gray, to call our kitset shelter design ‘R19’. The ‘R‘ stands for Respite, as this is one of the main focuses of our design, but can also be representative of Relaxation, Refuge and quite often Rivets! The 19 signifies the nineteen tetrahedrons that make up the structure (formally the name was R21, but with the loss of two tetrahedrons we had to change the name!).

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Final Package

The full scale mock up had been successful, there were just a couple of issues to tweak such as the depth of the instructions compartment and working out how the lid would open, would it be hinged or remove completely? We also wondered if we should leave the holes open or use paper fasteners in homage to the shelter, this would be more of an aesthetic choice than a functional one.

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Instructional Drawings 3.0 – The Final Version!

Bearing in mind the feedback that we had had with regards to our instructional drawings, we embarked on creating our final set of assembly instructions. Ultimately we decided to go with CAD drawings as they were a cleaner and more precise method of conveying information. Along with the CAD illustrations we are also providing photographs to give the user an idea of what the end of each step will look like and what the final kitset will look like when constructed.

One of the suggestions for improving our instructional drawings was to provide an inventory, or packing list of all the items included in the kitset. We decided that the best way to do this was to use photographs of the actual items, so that the user could immediately identify the parts provided in the kitset.

Picture screws, cable ties, split pins, cord and scissors

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Folded tetrahedron modules, felt pockets, insert frames and suspension discs

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We then incorporated these images, along with a number supplied, into the first page of our instructional drawings. We thought that it would also be important to note that there are spares of certain parts, so that the user will not be unsure at the end of construction and realise there are still pieces in the kitset!

Cover page showing image of fully constructed and suspended shelter 

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First page showing packing list and overall configuration

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Second page showing assembly of the insert pieces

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Next is putting together the tetrahedrons

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Then filling the felt pockets

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Page five is the overview of the structure assembly

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Page six explains how each tetrahedron is arranged into a hexagon

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Page seven moves on to the suspension of the structure

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The next page then shows where the next pieces are added to the structure

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And finally how the structure is fully suspended

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We have tried to be very clear with our instructions and illustrations, using images of the tools and pieces needed at the top for each step and a finished product image at the end. We have also added a lot of written information to guide the user through the steps. We are pretty happy with the results – it’s all coming together!!!

Packaging Development

We liked the idea of the package being like a hat box or almost like a gift that you open up to find the present within, we thought we would need to tie a cord around the modules in order to be able to lift them out as there wouldn’t be much room for fingers. In the same way we started to think about how the tools and assembly instructions would be presented. A piece of fabric that unrolled to reveal the contents within pockets seemed appropriate and a space saving exercise.

We decided on cardboard to make up the package as it was a fundamental part of the shelter and would be an appropriate material to create the structure we wanted. It was agreed that the points of connection should be echoed by the package also, so we looked at using holes and rivets. We chose to show the connecting tabs on the exterior of the package to continue the idea of exposing the interior, turning the standard design of a box inside out. Labelling was stencilled on top of the box to create consistency with the typography used in the shelter.

Full scale mock up

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Coding the Hexagons

As we developed the instructional drawings, it became clear to us that we would need to use some kind of coding system to make it obvious to the user which tetrahedron went with the next to create the three hexagons. We decided to name the hexagons, A, B and C with each tetrahedron numbered from 1 to 6. We agreed that it be best if the letters and numbers were stamped or written on the interior and would make it a feature rather than try to conceal them. We felt that using a stencil template would be the most sympathetic with the cardboard and in fact, referenced the kind of typography usually used in labelling packaging boxes.

We couldn’t retain the cool graphics and packaging information shown on this cardboard as we needed to change to a thinner cardboard, however we felt the stencil echoed the look of it, and will remind the user of the human engagement created when making the stencil.

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Trubridge Instructionals

One set of instructional drawings that we thought were effective were from David Trubridge lighting. It also seemed like it would apply quite well to our own design, being of a modular and flat pack nature. Aspects that we appreciated and hoped to apply to our own drawings were the use of clearly laid out steps, concise written instructions and good images. We noted that there was a bit of extra information regarding the assembly of the light at the beginning which we thought would be helpful for our own design too.

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