International Competition – Outside The Box – Low and High Technologies for the Emergencies
Client: Contanima
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with Francisco Parraga Gamero
Year: 2011


…new organic and social camp lay-outs


Many temporary disaster shelter camps have an extended existence as permanent camps for over 10 years. Our first hypothesis is that facility units in temporary and (semi)permanent camps can be made of advanced tents. Membrane technology has improved extensively, which makes tents competitive with pavilions and other container type of accommodation. Tents are lightweight, portable, quick to install, strong, cheap and very durable. We designed a tent that needs least effort to install and that has the strongest possible shape and structure in terms of anticipated climate, weather conditions and durability. It is based on a pre-stressed membrane. Its shape is derived from a sphere (maximum content with minimum envelope) and formed into a flattened ring torus (strongest in shape). Because of its multi use applications we call it ‘facilitator’.


Instead of proposing a standalone pavilion, our second hypothesis is that this particular tent shape allows new organic camp lay-outs with much more social interaction. Tents can be linked and grouped in various social patterns to assist families, groups as well as individuals, in many possible options. The camps layouts are in fact derived from the standard orthogonal pattern, but now clusters of social coherence can be made, grouped around facility tents. The new lay-outs are network-like and offer public, semi public and private open spaces.


The size of the folded facilitator fits a standard shipping container. The tent is transported plane and is unfolded and made ready by six people within one minute. It has an optimized size for many possible lay-outs of people’s spaces and facilities. It is made of a radial set of twelve integrated pre-shaped spring steel strips, as meridians, that keep the single membrane under constant tension in radial directions. The anchorage system consists of four auger fixings into the underground soil. The tent is extremely strong and stable and does not need ropes.


The folded facilitator has a height of about 72 cm with a hollow space that can hold containers stuffed with necessary equipment, medicine, dried food, etc. The facilitator is made of 12 radial sections that make 1-12 compartments. Compartments can be divided through fabric partitions with zippers.
Different types of membrane (semi transparent, insulated, reflective, ventilated) can be applied to fit specific climatic conditions. For a durability and life span of at least 10 years, the bottom and top have watertight membranes of 700 gr/m2, armored with highly resistant fibers.

The weight of the tent is approximately 40 + 170 (steel + membrane) = 210 kg and it needs six people to carry and unfold. Color of the tents for the displaced is off-white in order to reflect harsh sunlight. The service tents have recognizable colors. The open center void of the torus makes the facilitator extremely strong and is used as a provider of privacy and as a technical space. The technical space assembles drinking water into a container or is used for communication through antenna devices. In the top of the membrane solar cells with Led lights are embedded.