Sustainable shelter for the homeless and disaster victims wins design award

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A bamboo dome designed by students from Gujarat, India, has won a top award for sustainability in architecture.

Launched in 2007, The Buckminster Fuller Challenge has gained a reputation for being what Metropolis Magazine called “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award.”

This year, for the first time, a Student Category was reviewed separately from the general applications, but based upon the same criteria: comprehensiveness, feasibility, replicability, ecological responsibility and how verifiable and anticipatory the project is.

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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.

CHHAT is a student-led initiative founded at Vadodara Design Academy.

Co-founder Sapan Hirpara submitted the programme in the hopes that their designs for rapidly deployable shelters could help to make emergency human habitation more functional and economical.

As well as shelters for migrants and refugees the domes’ short construction time also makes them ideal for emergency shelters after natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes. In addition to this, the bamboo structures can then continue to be used as communal areas in schools, or as exhibition spaces or medical camps.

Steel joints link the bamboo structures, which are then covered in bamboo mats and an insulating Styrofoam layer, and finally covered in a waterproof PVC flex sheet.

Spanning the entire perimeter of the dome is a gap nearly the height of a person, providing a well-ventilated environment and open atmosphere. The bamboo skeleton of the larger design can be constructed in about five and a half hours, taking another four hours to be completely covered and ready for habitation.

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