Design information

SheltAir investigates the use of air-filled cushions to rapidly, safely and cheaply erect beautiful and structurally efficient elastic gridshells for events and humanitarian causes. Scientifically developed by Gregory Quinn as part of his doctoral thesis at the Berlin University of the Arts at the Department of Structural Design and Technology.

A first SheltAir prototype was completed exhibited in the summer of 2017 at ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory in Berlin. A second prototype, adapted for humanitarian aid and with a vastly improved design, is being developed for HHftD and will be constructed this summer (2018) at the University of Bath's Building Research Park in Swindon.

The implementation & construction for the proposed solution is purposefully and necessarily low-tech. However the physical interaction between the elastica curves of the beams with residual stresses and the pneumatic form of the cushion in relation to the architectural target shape is particularly complex.

Bespoke simulation methods have been developed based on a novel dynamic relaxation solver which is insensitive to the system’s transience between dynamic (inflating) and static (inflated) states. Simulations and physical prototypes have produced a breadth of results which determine, for example, which spans, curvatures and pressures are feasible and suitable with this method. The amount of design freedom permitted within the constraints of the solution is considerable.

First SheltAir prototype
Pneumatic erection video (short):
Design & Build Video (long):