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The Folding Whare

The Folding Whare is a single room shelter for deployment to areas affected by disaster.

The shelter is constructed of structural, insulated, plywood and polystyrene composite panels. The panels are arranged and attached to allow assembly with a minimum of specialist tools or labour. A high quality space is created using a structural system which is expandable to accommodate different functions.

Prefabricated panels are arranged in an assembly derived from Maori traditions of binding and tensioning, to span a space and provide shelter. From the building of a full scale model, evaluations were made of the firmness of the structural system and the utility of the building created. The prototype demonstrates the success of a detailing system comprised of parts which make transportation and assembly easy and efficient.

The use of timber was a result of investigations which revealed it to be appropriate in strength, size, workability and cost.

The Folding Whare was built as part of the design process undertaken by Callum Dowie to complete his Master of Architecture (Professional) qualification, in 2009.

The Folding Whare was constructed of structural insulated panels fabricated especially for this project. The panels are built up of 9mm CD grade pine plywood laminated either side of a 70mm polystyrene core. Additional 70×45 kiln dried pine blocking was added where required to allow attachment of necessary hardware. The panels are insulating as well as structural. Full or half panels are used to minimise waste where possible. Light is admitted through the ridge where stale air is passively exhausted.

The panels are attached to each other by hinges at the ridge, floor and wall to roof junctions. The wall and roof elements become fixed relative to each other after the tensioning of an external cable. This creates a three pin arch structure. This is a contemporary interpretation of a system used by Pre-European Maori to support some buildings. Knowledge of the system is from archaeological evidence and has been translated for use with modern materials.

The tension wire runs over a compression ring which also supports a water collection gutter. The whole arrangement is able to be assembled by four people in 2-3 hours. The panel weights were kept low so as not to require additional machinery for construction. This would be important if the Whare were to be deployed in a disaster relief situation.

NZ Wood Timber Design Awards 2010
Highly Commended – Residential Engineering Excellence