Weaving a Home: Sophisticated, Solar-Powered Refugee Tents

weaving a home projectThrough the Weaving a Home project, award-winning architect and designer Abeer Seikaly came up with practical and exquisite shelters for disaster zones. Shortlisted for the 2013 Lexus Design Award, the lightweight, mobile structures also incorporate water collection, solar power generation and solar water heating into the design.

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Inspired by traditional basket weaving techniques, the flexibility of snakeskin, and the lightweight properties of paper lanterns, Seikaly wove weatherproof fabric between durable, curved plastic tubing. Weaving provides a simple way to improve the strength of a material while simultaneously giving it flexibility. Because the fabric can expand to enclose and contract for mobility, the structurally sound tents can handle compression and tension loads.

weaving a home project

weaving a home project

Water piping and electrical cables can even run through the hollow double-layered fabric tent skins. While each tent has weatherproof entrances and can be sealed up easily to cold or wet weather, it is also equipped to collect water via natural pathways through the skin, which direct water to a storage point. The fabric’s thermal properties convert solar radiation into power and store warm water for showering. Thanks to its flexible design and textile skin, openings to dispel hot air and catch cool cross-breezes can be formed wherever and whenever they are needed.

weaving a home project

Photos via Abeer Seikaly; h/t Inhabitat

The ventilated, energy-producing woven home affords the neediest people with the fundamental necessities in a temporary home. In their effort to find relief from natural disasters or war zones, refugees have to resettle in unknown lands with the few things they could carry, often starting with nothing but a tent to call home. From the belief that design is meant to fill a gap in people’s needs, the “Weaving a Home” project reexamines the traditional notion of what a tent shelter should be architecturally. The structures, which provide the comforts of contemporary life (heat, running water, electricity, storage, etc.), also offer a way for refugees to weave their lives back together in a new place, metaphorically speaking.

Find out more about designer Abeer Seikaly and the project by visiting her website.

Read more Eco Monday features here.

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