Stephanie Chaltiel used drones to coat a shelter in clay, demonstrating a fast construction method that could be used in refugee camps and disaster zones.
As part of designjunction during the 2018 London Design Festival the French architect and her team constructed Mud Shell, a sturdy domed shelter from bags of hay attached to a wooden lattice that was then sprayed with a mixture of clay and fibre using a drone. The project.
The resulting structure can be constructed rapidly, in this case just four days, from cheap, lightweight and readily available materials. It combines the ancient building techniques of wattle and daub with cutting edge drone application technology.
Little sacking bags filled with hay were mounted on a formwork of wooden struts arranged in a dome shape. The drone-sprayed coating binds the structure together, making it durable, weatherproof and permanent.
“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 automised.” Mud Shell would have taken weeks to coat by hand, she estimates, where the drone could achieve that effect in minutes.
Chaltiel is hopeful that this system could be applied to building emergency housing in disaster situations or refugee camps, using clay sourced from the surrounding site.
“The drones are quite easy to bring to any site. 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,” she said.