Inflatable Buildings Could Bring Shelter After Natural Disasters


One of the greatest things about tech development is when the creative minds of the world are applied to truly impacting an existing problem. But often the most ambitious plans come with the kinds of challenges that can sink them even before they get off the ground.

In the aftermath of natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, one of the main difficulties is providing shelter for the scores of people who are displaced. Even if there are locations available, it’s not always practical to ferry people out of a disaster zone when roadways are often compromised.

NBC News is reporting that scientists in Poland have designed a product that brings shelter to these victims by way of a helicopter, and it assembles in minutes.

Inspired by origami, the starts pre-assembled and compressed and can be flown into a disaster zone and dropped to the ground. After being anchored, is inflated with helium in a process likened to pumping up a balloon.

3D printed slabs of metal are used to create floors and ramps allow users to move up and down floors. Walls would be constructed of flexible plastic and equipped with electricity-generating solar cells. Once at its full height, the structure should be able to house up to 1,000 people.

Not surprising, some experts are calling the concept provocative, yet unrealistic. Helium is one big concern, as transporting and containing the amount necessary to inflate the would be easier said than done. According to one architectural expert, the helium would likely leak slowly and need to be often replenished to prevent the non-traditional building from sagging and collapsing. Even one of the designers, Piotr Pańczyk, has acknowledged that challenges like these would mean making this project a reality would come at a tremendous, prohibitive cost.

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