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University Relations

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Dec. 9, 2008
Contact: Bruce Johnson, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, (913) 940-9801.

KU architecture students to showcase emergency shelter model Dec. 10

Third-year architecture students test and assemble the beams and flooring for one section of their pre-fabricated emergency shelter.

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas architecture students will assemble and test a model emergency relief shelter that they have spent the past 15 weeks designing and pre-fabricating.

Their 200-square-foot house, designed to shelter a family of four, will be on display at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, on the lawn between Marvin and Budig halls. The project is the work of a third-year architecture studio taught by Bruce Johnson, lecturer in architecture and a Kansas City, Mo.-based architect.

Emergency personnel from federal, state and local agencies will tour the model shelter and make recommendations.

Johnson asked the students to design and build an emergency shelter that could be pre-fabricated and shipped anywhere in the world for people surviving disasters such as an earthquake, hurricane or tornado. He also challenged the students to use materials that could be reclaimed or recycled for their design. If mass-produced, the pre-fabricated shelter units could be used again and again — disassembled, packed, shipped and reassembled in new locations.

A computer model of the emergency shelter.

“What we wanted was a design that could be constructed inexpensively, be lightweight for shipping and assembly, and still maintain the qualities of a home,” said Alexandra Ladue, a junior from Naperville, Ill.

Refugee camps tend to have central facilities for bathroom and kitchen purposes. Consequently, the shelter is designed without plumbing or any utility connections, said Grace Boudewyns, an Olathe junior.

Their design does incorporate passive solar heating, said Kyle Moller, a junior from Grapevine, Texas. It has built-in storage compartments as well as fold-out beds, a table and stools that can function for seating or be stacked to create storage cubbies. He points out paneled storage spaces cut into the flooring, one of which would contain the unassembled rectangular table. The expandable table is big enough to accommodate four people and perhaps an additional neighboring family for a meal.

Their shelter has tent qualities such as vinyl fabric stretched over beams, but it also uses wood for flooring and walls. The wood, oriented strand board, known as OSB in construction, is durable yet lightweight. The shelter is constructed in four-foot wide segments or modules known as “bays.” For this project, the shelter will have four bays and a porch, but more could be added to enlarge the shelter space. The end walls include some insulation sandwiched between two layers of vinyl sheeting.

One wall is designed with louvers that can be opened for southern exposure to utilize passive solar heating. The students constructed eight stackable crates that could hold about 10 eight-ounce plastic bottles of water. Jon Huffmaster, a senior from Chesterfield, Mo., estimated that when filled, the crates will weigh about 15 pounds each.

The back wall of the shelter includes four beds that can be pulled down for sleeping. At night, when the beds are down, the water crates can be moved and nestled into the wall spaces where the beds are stored during the day. Solar heat gained during the day is then radiated near the beds.

The School of Architecture and Urban Planning provided some funding to help with the cost of constructing the prototype, but many of the materials used in the design have been recycled or donated or both, said Sally Schrum, a junior from DeSoto, Mo.

Cabela’s of Kansas City, Kan., and Smithville Marine in Smithville, Mo., each donated plastic boat wrap used for the outer roof fabric and end walls. Lamar Advertising donated recycled vinyl billboard sheeting used for the interior roof fabric as well as the south facing louver wall. J & A Traffic of Blue Springs, Mo., donated recycled Telespar, square steel tubing that the students are using as columns to support the roof beams. The Lawrence Wal-Mart Recycling Center donated plastic water bottles.

The students came up with three preliminary designs. Their final consensus was based on the design that could be completed at full-scale based on their limited time and budget.

On Dec. 17 in Marvin Hall, the students will have an academic review of their design by faculty and practicing professional architects.

Johnson said the students’ computer model and drawings will be available to professionals online. A future KU class might choose to continue the project and refine it further using input gathered from the emergency personnel who view the design on Dec. 10. One refinement, Johnson said, would be to code, perhaps with color, each piece so that the assembly procedure could be easily understood without a translation.

The students designing the emergency shelter prototype are all working on a master’s in architecture, a five-year program at KU. They are listed below by hometown, level in school, parents’ names and high school.

From Lawrence 66049
Matthew Blake Thames, junior, son of Tom and Lisa Stofac; Free State High School

From Leawood 66206
Marianne Melling, senior, daughter of Ben and Sara Melling; Shawnee Mission East High School

From Olathe 66061
Grace Boudewyns, junior, daughter of William and Sandy Boudewyns; Olathe North High School

From Overland Park 66210
Austin Bradley, junior, son of Scott and Juliette Bradley; Blue Valley Northwest High School

From Overland Park 66223 and Kansas City, Mo.
Peter Garrett, junior, son of Sandra Garrett of Overland Park and Cletis Garrett of Kansas City, Mo.; Blue Valley West High School

From Edwardsville 62025
Chris Gleason, senior, son of Michael and Jeanie Gleason; St. Louis University High School

From Naperville 60564
Alexandra Ladue, junior, daughter of Paul and Susan Ladue; Neuqua Valley High School

From Quincy 62301
Brian Winkeljohn, junior, son of Tom and Jill Winkeljohn; Quincy Sr. High School

From Ballwin 63021
Dennis Hartog, senior, son of David and Heidi Hartog; Marquette High School

From Chesterfield 63017
Jon Huffmaster, senior, son of Joe and Wendy Huffmaster; Wildwood Christian Academy

From DeSoto 63020
Sally Schrum, junior, daughter of Paul and Ramona Schrum; DeSoto High School

From Kansas City 64133 and Overland Park

From Kirkwood 63122
Jeremy Roehr, junior, son of Russell and Patricia Roehr; St. Louis University High School

From LaTour 64747
Will Hon, junior, son of Steve and Dianne Hon; Sherwood High School.

From St. Louis 63128
Kevin Gremmelsbacher, son of Gery and Debbie Gremmelsbacher; Lindbergh High School

From Grapevine 76051
Kyle Moller, junior, son of Gordon and Kathleen Moller; Grapevine High School

From Saginaw 76179
Stephanie Schulz, junior, daughter of Mark and Nadine Schulz; W.E. Boswell High School

From Cheonan City
Jun Hee Cho, senior, son of Hyung Sik Cho and Hyang Eui Oh


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