“I Bought a Shelter” is designed specifically to aid in the Sichuan earthquake. The main structure consists of locally sourced bamboo that is split and then bound together to form overlapping hoops. This structure, both lightweight and strong, is then covered with white durable woven and laminated polyethylene sheeting. Images: building process http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/2.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/1.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/59.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/62.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/38.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/65.jpg Bamboo structure http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/74.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/76.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/79.jpg
The two ends of the tunnel are kept open for better ventilation. To prevent rain from entering, a ring of gutter is dug into the ground surrounding the shelter. Based on their recent three-month assessment on the shelters that are being used, it seems like the design is generally successful in a sense that it has been used in one way or another. However, there were also numerous complains regarding its size and weight. Image: scale of shelter http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/124.jpg Interior of a shelter http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/wppa/130.jpg Alternative use: http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/dsc4435.jpg, http://www.iboughtashelter.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/dsc5503-1.jpg
Because there is no manufacturing process, the users have to personally set up the tent themselves. Although this effectively minimizes the price of a shelter, it also poses another issue – how can one ensure the stability of these temporary homes? There were also incidences reported in the assessment stating that a very strong wind had turned one of the tents over at night. Indeed bamboo is an incredibly strong material, but it is also very light. To have a structurally sound shelter that can live through storms, a solid foundation must be provided.
In addition, there is also a serious problem that was born into the project itself. At site #05 and 6, the shelters were not even built! Due to the nature of the design, a volunteer and a translator had to physically trek down to each village and personally show the users how to build a shelter. Although the process is relatively simple and has proven to be effective at other sites, but has a major flaw. The areas most affected by the earthquake were hard-to-reach communities. The ideal shelter should be something that can set up easily, intuitively, and without personal instructions.
It would be interesting to see a design that can be set easily, intuitively, and without personal instructions. It should also embrace modern technology currently available in China local materials, fabricators, and manufacturers. Since most of these shelters are built within close proximities of their original homes, some decided to abandon the bamboo structure altogether and simple secure the tarp onto the roof with heavy objects. This seems like a more desirable alternative.