Art & Design: Softshelter by Molo

Softshelter is a sustainable, easy-to-assemble indoor emergency housing system made entirely from pleated paper partitions, by Canadian furniture company Molo.

The concept was provoked by the housing disaster that followed hurricane Katrina in 2005 to provide families with their own private units, easily adapted and manipulated for varying family sizes.

Standing 6 feet high, 100% recyclable paper pleated sections connect with other partitions to initially sleep four people, Softshelter can also be flat packed, shipped easily, no tools are required for assembly and the process takes approximately five minutes to put up, or take down.

Molo also wanted to ‘humanize’ the Softwall spaces, and a set of ‘personal effects’ are available, including hanging vases, picture hooks, wardrobe pockets and LED lighting for when no other power is available.

Similarly, WikiHouse is an open source community project that enables anyone to construct and customize their own building in as little as 24 hours.

Users simply download chosen house components that have been shared by the creative WikiHouse community of architects and designers. WikiHouse then assembles these components into basic model drawings using Google Sketchup.  Then using a CNC cutter, 3D wooden parts are cut which can then be assembled by the user like a jigsaw, without the need for power tools or any formal construction training; akin to the IKEA self-assembly concept.

Foremost, these concepts are both really innovative housing solutions for families and communities that have been devastated by natural disasters.  But we are also increasingly noticing designers creating open-source platforms, that give users the creative control to adapt and manipulate, and re-design products to suit their personal requirements.

We look forward to seeing more innovative design concepts that consider this.

The first WikiHouse will be constructed at the Gwangju Design Biennale 2011 in South Korea, later this year. – Samantha Fox

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