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Origami Cave puts a stylish spin on emergency shelter


September 15, 2011

The Digital Origami Emergency Shelter was inspired by a single water molecule and is made from 100 percent recyclable materials (image by LAVA)

The Digital Origami Emergency Shelter was inspired by a single water molecule and is made from 100 percent recyclable materials (image by LAVA)

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Australian architecture firm LAVA exhibited its inhabitable "Origami Cave" as part of The Emergency Shelter exhibition, which was held in Sydney earlier this month. The exhibition featured architects from around the globe including Ateliers Jean Nouvel, PTW Architects, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, Cox, Koichi Takada Architects, Sou Fujimoto and Terunobu Fujimori. Each architect was asked to create a shelter that would not only protect people from the elements during an emergency situation, but would also provide a space that was secure and comfortable in the aftermath of a disaster.

The Digital Origami Emergency Shelter was inspired by a single water molecule and is made from 100 percent recyclable materials. The base molecule is made out of plywood and can be easily shipped as a flat pack and later constructed for emergency shelter use. Stepping inside the molecule, the shelter accommodates a sleeping space for two adults and one child, and features an additional zone for eating or relaxing. The solar operated LED light brings the shelter to life, and from the outside the shelter looks like a designer Japanese lantern.

Whilst the Origami Cave might not be as practical as the recently discussed Softshelter, the exhibition did help raise funds for the Great Tohoku Earthquake-affected areas in Japan. LAVA's shelter will also be on display during the 2011 Sydney Architecture Festival from October 20th - 30th.

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

What a waste of good plyboard... its supposed to shelter people how is this achieved with this design disaster I would like to see how warm and dry it is with all that open space between the ply...


I am with harry_72. Did I miss something? Secure, protect, and comfortable? While I am sure that anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in need of such a shelter will be warm inside with the knowledge that the materials are 100% recyclable, I am not sure the trendy lantern look LED\'s will really add up to comfort, protection or security.

What about cost effective and practical?


this ludicrous idea gets only one comment from me ,Anglo Saxon I think \" what a load of bollocks ! \"


Yes is looks more like a big light fitting, we must just figure out from what its going to shelter one from to figure out how it qualified for that attribute.

Johan Smit

Cool looking? Sure. Practical for a post disaster structure? You have got to be kidding me. Hard does a hard drafty structure with non-usable space help those in need? I must have missed the point of this. It seems as if the architects just wanted to make something that looked cool and then tried to justify it by saying it flat ships and can be recycled. Good design is supposed to help people. Take 2.


I get the Japanese lantern bit, but which part of this qualifies as origami? As a shelter? As secure from wind? Rain? Cold? Heat?

This may be a cool \"festival\" space but if you think it qualifies for the Sydney Architecture Festival them I have a bridge for sale . . .....


This thing is Laim!

In my area keeping cool in a shelter is a huge issue and keeping mosquitoes out is an absolute essential. During most of the year here the heat and bugs would be worse than death in just about every emergency shelter I have seen. Even tents are a serious problem here. Jim Sadler

Looks like the perfect government supplied housing. Very easy for federal agents to peek at everything you are doing inside your plywood cage.


Wow, designers and design students get all this attention for unveiling pie-in-the-sky concepts that are utterly impractical and could never be built. Can I try, too?

I want some kind of inflatable structure. It should be packed in a plastic bucket. When needed, it can be pulled from the container, then the user activates the inflator, which fills the framework with chemical components that foam up like those polyurethane sealants you spray from a can around pipes, cracks, etc. Instant residential cubicle. It\'s all made with biodegradable plastic so everything dissolves within a year. Is this impractical enough? Can I get my dreamer\'s/designer\'s license now?

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