Wired Magazine has released a slideshow of some of the most efficient emergency sheltering solutions available, pointing some interesting facts such as the cost of transportation involved in mass-produced modules as a key point in design evolution for this area. My old fetish for round houses and adiabatic designs tickled on this because, as a matter of fact, this question has always been understated. Both the Dymaxion and the Futuro were made of submodules bolted together but their unibody structure allowed to deliver them airborne. Planting houses like seeds renders a powerful image for prefabricated architecture. But reality and facts bring the opposite: most of the round houses and shelters are made by shaping what lies on the floor : ice, mud, clay, wood or even straw-shaped materials. In fact, mother nature does the same for it’s most efficients coccoons and nests. In-situ shaping of existing material could be an interesting direction for future shelter designs. For many reasons, dwelling production will certainly have to go the same direction in many areas of our world. As oil costs keep moving up, the need for efficient designs may alos rise up to a situation where locally-extracted building materials will be regarded as the only solution. But, as the population behaviors have completely been changed by an era of cheap energy, we cannot simply expect from the people that they will get back the construction skills and techniques that their ancestors used. Plus there is the global vision of what a swelling must look like. I see there a real challenge for some clever part-robotized housing generation processes.
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