The speed with which disaster relief arrives can mean the difference between thousands of people injured or thousands of people killed, yet in most cases disaster relief efforts come from large organizations or governments based far from the regions affected. Both physical and political obstacles often drastically delay relief efforts, resulting in the loss of many additional lives. For example, After the 7.6-magnitude earthquake in Northern Pakistan in 2004, because of the damaged roads and mountainous terrain, it took no less than ten days for the first medical tents to be erected in the central city of Mansehra. In addition, after two deadly earthquakes in Turkey in 1999, Ambassador Hasan Gögüs (Director General for Multilateral Affairs of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) stated that “Visas, customs, and registration of foreign actors seem to be the most crucial obstacles in times of natural disaster.”
New strategies are clearly needed to overcome transport logistics in order to more rapidly aid people after a disaster strikes. What if we could discard transport altogether and deploy a disaster relief shelter without moving any materials or personnel?
FLAT to FORM is a construction process that uses common modular materials connected by simple joinery to transform flat grid assemblies into habitable grid-shell domes. By utilizing materials and people already present on-site, a FLAT to FORM shelter could reduce disaster response time by overcoming obstacles caused by geographic remoteness, political barriers, and damaged infrastructure. The ultimate goal is to create building instructions for relief shelters that could be transmitted to disaster areas via phone, internet, or satellite. I propose to unite high-tech global communications with traditional craft techniques to provide disaster victims with information can use to help themselves hours or days before outside help could possibly arrive.