Adaptive Protective shelter

This tent is a portable, modular, and resilient shelter for refugees forced to move because of climate change that protects them while they are on the move to their new destination. It is an early-stage concept which was the result of a 1-week-long biomimicry class.

Given the recent and projected short-term transition to a more nomadic lifestyle, how can nature’s know-how help us to rethink that transition without compromising culture, life goals, and security?

Rising sea levels will cause more and more people to move from their homes to find places better suited for living. Many of these people have low financial means and will be exposed to major challenges while traveling to new places. Most of them have to travel on foot. Protecting themselves from environmental hazards can be very difficult out in the open.

We decided to develop a concept for a tent for these nomads that is portable, suited for single and family use, and resilient to climate hazards. Following the biomimicry design process, we drew inspiration from nature. At each stage of the process, the life principles were a guiding point to see if we were on track. The principles that seemed relevant for this project were:

  • Adapting the solution to changing conditions
  • Being resource-efficient
  • Integrating development with growth
  • Being locally attuned and responsive

How does nature adapt to changes in the environment? This was our guiding question from which we found natural flora and fauna as well as animals to inspire and guide us to create the tent. We particularly looked for protection from abiotic factors.

We discovered five mentors from nature that helped us to define the core features of the tent:

  • Resilience through multi-layered shells of the golden-scale snail: This led us to design the tri-layered protection of the tent.
  • The moving scales of a desert lizard: This led us to design a reflective outermost layer of the tent allowing for heat regulation
  • The foldability and open-close mechanism of a pangolin: This led us to define the flexibility and portability of the tent with a roll-up motion
  • The modular growth of a Nautilus’s shell: This led us to design a size-adjustable tent which adapts based on whether it inhabited 1 person or 5 or more.
  • The self-healing mechanisms of a pipevine: This led us to design the inner layer of the tent in a way that it could self-repair in case it got ruptured.