April 6, 2008
Design is not just about making pretty things. Good design makes life easier for people, great design encompasses other factors such as being environment friendly or user friendly. Ground-breaking design however sees a need and assuages it – smartly.
British inventors Peter Brewin and William Crawford saw such a need 2004 in Uganda. They had developed a “concrete canvas“, a super strong cloth, which could be formed into strong stable igloo-like structures and won several prizes with it.
In Uganda, like in many countries, refugees lack safe shelters. Flimsy tents are blown away by the wind and get destroyed by water, or broken into by thieves or even enemy soldiers,who seek to steal away children for their army.
The designers answered to this need for safe shelters by inventing their “building in a bag” that only requires air and water for construction, can be deployed quickly and easily and can last up until 10 years. It can be sterelized for medical uses, provides better security (against looting and nature elements) and safe emergency shelters. It can also be demolished easily and leaves little material for disposal.
Go to Designboom for a cool interview with the designers and to see how it works and/or to this Newsweek article explaining how it could help those people in Uganda. (Although i´m still wondering how much water the structures actually need, since that is also lacking in a lot of the areas they would be used in.)
Still, a wonderful invention that hopefully will soon be used to help thousands of people.
This is design at it´s best.