Designers from Seattle-based design firm Olson Kundig share their designs for a flexible shelter – to provide protection on rainy days and light on gloomy days
Designed to encourage outdoor activity during Seattle’s winters, Rainfly is a modular tensile shelter system that can be deployed in urban public areas to provide protection on rainy days and light on gloomy days. The flexible shelters create space where people can enjoy being outdoors and engaging with the everchanging weather. Taking inspiration from plants that respond to external stimuli, Rainfly reacts to both the sun and rain, harvesting and storing sunlight in summer months and rain in the winter. Rainfly is made of fabric that harvests light on one side through photovoltaics and emits it on the other via LEDs. The tensile form and transformative skin can be shaped to divert rainfall for water collection.
Open The top of the fabric is lined with PV. Under sunlight, the fabric opens to faces the sun, providing shade, but remaining airy and providing views of the sky
Closed when the sun sets or it rains, the fabric relaxes shut to shield from the elements and the underside glows. Rain is diverted into collection points to be stored for later usage
We imagine that this modular system could also be reconfigured into an emergency shelter in the event of an environmental catastrophe, or provide protection from the elements for those experiencing homelessness.
Kirsten R. Murray
Owner and principal of Seattle-based Olson Kundig, Kirsten R. Murray’s work is characterised by contextual buildings that emerge from collaborative design partnerships. Throughout her 28-year practice, Murray has designed a range of project types, from private residences to mixed-use buildings, multifamily developments, art spaces, historic and commercial renovations and urban design projects.