News / Architecture

Architects have designed a foldable skyscraper to offer relief in remote disaster zones

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Life-saving skyscrapers may seem an unlikely idea when considering the looming, glass buildings that encircle our cities. Polish architects Damian Granosik, Jakub Kulisa, and Piotr Pańczyk have, however, created a foldable version of these sky-high towers that could offer critical relief to those living in natural disaster-prone zones.

The trio have conceptualised a collapsable tower — the Skyshelter.zip — that can be delivered by helicopter to help aid workers access remote locations, offering an alternative route should a natural disaster make roads impassable. Cocoon-shaped in design, this year’s winner of the eVolo skyscraper competition is meant to serve as a “multi-purpose hub for any relief operation,” the designers explain.

With its entirely foldable structure akin to that of an origami creation or accordion, the Skyshelter.zip can be “effortlessly and instantly deployed even on unstable soil” with little to no groundwork required after anchoring. The structure rises, “thanks to a large load-bearing helium balloon placed within (thus protected from external forces). This process is also easily reversible. Lightweight 3D-printed slabs are attached directly to the balloon in a succeeding manner and pulled upwards by its load-bearing force and structural steel wires that, once strained, are capable of resisting horizontal wind forces. In turn, internal and external walls are in fact pieces of fabric attached to slabs that unfold as the structure get deployed.”

As such, the skyscraper can also accommodate a large number of disaster relief tents, which can be stacked on top of each other within the structure. The architects have estimated that this solution would take up to 30 times less room than traditional tents or containers more typically used in disaster relief, enabling aid workers to provide increased services and emergency shelter for those hit by traumatic events.

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