UK students have devised a three-in-one garment that quickly transforms from a jacket to a sleeping bag to a tent. They want their 'wearable shelters' to be distributed among refugees arriving in Europe. Matthew Stock reports.
The all-too familiar sight of refugees landing on the shores of Europe. Aid agencies are struggling to cope with the arrivals, who are often left with no choice than to sleep outside. Design students in the UK believe they have a temporary solution. This parka-style coat is in fact a wearable shelter. When laid flat, the origami-inspired design folds into a sleeping bag. Light-weight poles can be slotted into the frame to turn it into a tent, able to accommodate one adult and two children. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. HARRIET HARRISS, SENIOR TUTOR IN INTERIOR DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE AT THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART, SAYING: "The brief that I set our students to think about how a garment could convert into some kind of shelter for the approximate three-week period that many refugees are spending getting from points of arrival within the EU to processing centres. The idea was to really make sure that the materials used were sustainable, were affordable, could make it very easy and quick for us to mass produce the garment which means we could distribute it quickly and through lots of different agencies." (SOUNDBITE) (English) DESIGN STUDENT ANNE SOPHIE GEAY, SAYING: "The first thing we were thinking was how do you have, literally, almost all of your house - how can you wear your house and your personal items and personal belongings?" The 'wearable shelter' is made from Tyvek, a material tough enough to withstand tearing, but also breathable. It's lined with the insulating material Mylar, which helps retain the body heat of the person inside. Internal waterproof pockets are large enough for personal items, as well as clothing. This prototype design is still being perfected, but the team plan to field test the final version in early summer. They're now seeking funding on Kickstarter to help fund mass production of the garment. If successful, they hope to have the product ready for distribution to refugees before next Winter.