Are you tired of spending the night in a tent or the local super dome, waiting for your new trailer from FEMA? Well, don't hold your breath. Instead, build this nifty shelter from cardboard or other rigid sheet material. Because it is one piece, it sets up quick, folds down flat, and is mass producible. This is all possible because of pleats. Yes, pleats! The pleats let otherwise wasted material strengthen the structure and automagicly shed rain water. No more taping, tarping, or shingling in the field to keep the rain out. Just set up the structure and you're done! (OK, you also need to hold it down some way so it doesn't blow away.)
Besides emergency shelter, this structure could also be a playhouse, dog house, temporary work building, astronomy observatory, deer blind, EMI shield enclosure, ice fishing house, orbital habitat, green house, bullet proof enclosure, animal shelter, fire shelter, Burning Man habitat, and so on. All portable, cheap, and quickly erect-able. Just change the size and shape to meet your needs and select the appropriate materials. Variations of this concept can also make solar concentrators, dish antennas, and domes (maybe the world's first one peice, fold up dome!)
The example shown here is a very basic seven sided yurt type structure, made with Home Depot Wardrobe boxes, Gorilla tape, and spring clips. The wardrobe boxes are convenient because most of the creases needed for folding are already there.
Patent Pending. More variations to come, showing additional features and options. Thanks for your interest.
Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed
Home Depot Wardrobe boxes (4) - about $10 each new. I used left overs from a recent move. The Home Depot boxes have the same dimensions on all four sides. U-haul boxes don't. You can use boxes with unequal sides, but it changes the design a little.
Gorilla Tape (15 feet) - Any kind of reinforces tape will probably work, such as duct tape.
Spline Roller tool (1) - Normally used for pressing in the spline on window screens, it is also good for creasing the card board at places that need to fold.
Spring Clips (7) - a convenient device for holding the structure together.
Other tools you may find useful - tape measure or yard stick, markers, scissors, knife, Elmer's Exterior Wood Glue
Step 2: Cut Open the Boxes
Cut the taped joints of all the boxes to make four flat sheets of cardboard. (all measurements are in inches)
Step 3: Cut and Crease the Roof Section
Cut two of the unfolded box sheets as shown in the diagram. The blue dashed lines are new creases that you will score with the spline tool so they fold precisely.
Step 4: Assemble the Cardboard Sheets
The roof sheets glue or tape to the wall sheets by overlapping the bottom flaps of the roof sheet with the top flaps of the wall sheets. Tape the vertical joint, shown by the red line, on the front and back of the sheets. This is a folding joint, so leave a 1/4" gap between the sections so the joint folds easily in either direction.
Step 5: Final Assembly
Fold the creases a few times to limber them up. The illustration shows the sequence from folded-down to fully erected. Notice that the end sections overlap to achieve a weather seal without additional taping. (You could make an eight sided structure without the overlap, but additional sealing will be needed to keep the rain out.) The spring clips go at the top of each pleat and one on the floor at the bottom.
Step 6: Completed
Here is the completed structure. Just add boxes to make it larger.
Step 7: Other Stuff
OK, now you have a shell, but it takes more than a shell to make a shelter a home. Here are some brief notes to start your thinking from. This is incomplete, so you will need your imagination from here on, or wait for future installments of this instructable.
1. Water Proofing - Cardboard falls apart fast when wet. Paint it with some kind of roofing paint or put a plastic laminate on the outside. Or use a material that is water proof (see materials below).
2. Doors and Windows - Use framing windows for RV's or just cut flaps in the sides. The obvious place for the door is in the overlapped wall section where the strength is greater.
3. Floor - Make the bottom floor flaps longer to get complete coverage. Or use something removable like a plastic sheet or Coroplast.
4. That Hole in the Top - The roof may be extended all the way to a point. The hole comes in handy for ventilation and lighting. Either way, the roof needs a cap at the top to keep the rain out. Use translucent material for natural lighting. Include a vent for ventilation.
5. Materials - Corrugated cardboard folds easily, but needs water proofing for outdoor use. Coroplast is an amazing material: water proof, inexpensive, light, and durable. You may need to cut away one layer of material to make creases that folds neatly. I use a Dremel with a cutting tool. Making wider cuts makes folding easier. Plywood or foam board may be used, with many advantages, but more tape is need to hinge everything together.
6. Number of Sides - 3 or more. 4 sides for the traditional square. The more sides, the rounder and more yurt-like the structure.
7. The bottom of the pleats in the roof must slope outward to drain water to the outside of the structure. If you change the design, do some calculations to make sure the pleat slope is correct, or build a model from paper to check the design.