The Countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area is On!


Shelter 2.0: Distributed manufacturing for emergencies

3D Printing & Imaging

Bill writes in to tell about Shelter 2.0, a fabbed structure system that aims to leverage distributed manufacturing and shipping to provide durable emergency structures to situations of need.

The Shelter 2.0 was designed by Robert Bridges as a CNC-cut emergency shelter in the Guggenheim/Sketchup contest in 2009. The idea was that it would be partway between a tent and a real house and could be dis-assembled and re-assembled using some interesting CNC-cut joinery to make it easy.

Since all the digital files needed to cut the Shelters are available for download under a Creative Commons, share alike, no commercial license, anyone in the world with a ShopBot CNC tool can cut one…that’s 6000+ possible fabricators. The potential for a distributed manufacturing of even a fraction of this size to cut things like emergency housing is pretty powerful. Tools and materials could be shipped to the place they’re needed and cut there, but more practically parts could be cut in regional clusters and shipped where they’re needed in containers. With services like 100kGarages starting to assemble fabrication networks, it will become increasingly easy to get projects like this organized and rolling when the need arises. And with design files available in places like the Sketchup 3d warehouse, design refinement is faster and easier.

He and some others have ramped up their design iterations to develop a new end wall system. They shopbotted the parts and set it up over the weekend.

8 thoughts on “Shelter 2.0: Distributed manufacturing for emergencies

  1. alandove says:

    Besides having many of the same disadvantages I mentioned for the concrete bunker you posted the other day (, this adds another one: liability. Shop-botters are mostly small businesses and private individuals tinkering with their CNC machines. If they decide to get into making temporary (read: semi-permanent) disaster housing, they’ll enter a whole new universe of risk. When (not if) one of these things catches fire, collapses on its amateur builder’s head, or turns out to contain toxic compounds, the maker is going to be losing his own house.

    Put people in tents temporarily, then let their local builders construct regionally appropriate housing afterward. I know that’s not an elegant engineering solution, but it’s the only approach that actually has a chance of working.

  2. Dan says:

    If there are sheet goods available locally, a hexayurt will be much easier to assemble, with a lot less material waste. And once you move beyond the immediate picking-up-the-pieces stage, you’d be able to knock them back apart again and re-use the pieces to make more complicated and permanent structures.

    This design is just an excuse to show off how your shop-bot can cut intricate shapes. Shop-bots are not really that common. You then have to ship them to the disaster site, and the whole logistical train becomes a train wreck.

    Past disaster responses have shown that keeping materials non-specialized makes them more useful in the long run.

  3. j2 says:

    I thought the advantage of geodesics were minimum materials for given area as well as resistance to wind?

    Disadvantage probably being connector materials, I guess?

  4. David says:

    Holy cow! 45 sheets of plywood? This has got to be the least efficient way to make a structure using that much material… Not cheap… just silly.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

View more articles by Chris Connors
Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 30% off early bird ticket sales ends August 31st, 2023!

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Prices Increase in....