practical shelter innovation for disaster relief


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Reciprocal frames have a long and proven history in construction.

In Medieval times, when available timbers were too short to span a suspended floor, the solution was a square frame of mutually supporting timbers in a planar grillage arrangement or reciprocal frame.

It is this ability of a reciprocal frame to support its own weight that we have used in designing the roof of a new type of relief shelter.

Leonardo Da Vinci's sketch of planar grillage used for roof and bridge construction.

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After the Haiti earthquake, thousands of families were given tarpaulins but with very little means to support them. The result was poorly constructed shelters that collapsed when the rains came as seen in this Red Cross video.

This need for a simple frame that could support the many thousands of tarpaulins that are delivered by aid agencies worldwide is our motivation.

This model after Leonardo Da Vinci shows a self- supporting roof span.

Four 4 pole reciprocal frames are used here but more can be added to increase the span.

The result is the Reciprocal bamBoo or "ReciproBoo" shelter .

Over the last 4 years we have refined this shelter into a simple bamboo or steel kit; the ReciproBoo Shelter Kit ( RSK ).

The RSK has many advantages over tents and this means that aid agencies now have a real and practical alternative for disaster emergency shelter.

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