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Mud-Spraying Drone Helps Build Prototype

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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A French architect has come up with a new way to create low-cost emergency shelters with a bit of aerial help.

Architect Sephanie Chaltiel unveiled a design at the London Design Festival last month. The design, which looks like a giant dome, requires hay bags full of sand to be attached to a wooden lattice frame. Then, drones are used to spray the whole structure with mud.

The Structure

The project, dubbed “Mud Shell,” can be built rapidly—the one in London took four days—from lightweight, cheap and mostly readily available materials. London’s structure cost about $3,475 to build, according to Business Insider.

"For the past 20 years I've been working with earth architecture," Chaltiel told Dezeen.

"I did a lot of prototypes by hand, working in Mexico on housing projects, so I had an idea about which steps could be automized."

Chaltiel has been experimenting with mud mixtures and earth structures for about 20 years, and says that the use of the drones brings an ease to the one element that would take weeks to complete. (While the lattice took a few days and a handful of people to erect, Chaltiel estimated that the dome would’ve taken weeks to coat by hand.)

"The drones are quite easy to bring to any site,” Chaltiel said. “When dismantled they fit into two [pieces of] luggage and the pump is on wheels so it can reach remote or difficult areas without the need for scaffolding or cranes.”

In this design, the clay acts as the glue and other ingredients, such as sand and lime, work to absorb excess moisture. The architect has also experimented with mixing other fibers into the clay to reduce cracks.

"For this project on the Southbank we used linen fibres, which are really thin and long, a bit like a human hair, that breaks down in the machine so it doesn't block the pump," Chaltiel explained.

The drone was specifically made for this project by the team’s engineers in Belgium, at the University of Leuven. Chaltiel says that the team is working on the drone’s capacity, aiming for the ability to coat larger areas at one time.

   

Tagged categories: Design; Design build; Drones

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