Casa Basica: Interesting stuff that we can’t have…yet

17 February, 2012

A few weeks ago this little guy popped up in my news feeds and it begged to be reported on here, but I wanted to do a little more research first. In a nutshell, what this guy has done is taken a number of emergency/space blankets, stitched them together and attached some kind of semi-rigid opening. The claim is that, when collapsed, it (like the blankets it’s made from) is exceptionally light and compact. When deployed, even a minimal amount of heat will cause it to self-inflate providing a small shelter suitable for a couple of people to take refuge from the elements.

It’s an interesting idea, and one I hope they will explore further. This unit is only a concept piece; it’s not being manufactured yet and is not available for purchase. The ability to ‘instantly’ deploy a pocket shelter would have a variety of uses in fields like disaster readiness, camping, etc., but it does definitely have some issues.

The video and some of the pictures show off one of the most obvious: it appears to be extremely susceptible to wind. A stiff breeze could see your shelter flying away from you. The material (a metallized polymer) provides the people inside a great deal of protection, but it looks like the shelter itself could be seriously damaged by a significant, sustained wind or any meaningful precipitation.

I also have concerns about its safety. Space blankets are useful for protection because they prevent the escape of heat and protect against wind. Like aluminum foil, they reflect heat back inside to the wearer and are airtight. Great attributes in a blanket or even part of a shelter, but crawling inside a giant one? I worry about it getting too warm inside the shelter. Likewise, if that small opening gets pinched off there could be a real risk of asphyxiation.

Then there are some other, albeit more minor, issues. That aperture for entry/exit wasn’t much bigger than the guy in the video and he wasn’t that big. It wasn’t clear exactly how rigid that opening structure was, but this could be an issue for larger people or for trying to get equipment inside.

And, of course, as noted, you can’t actually get this item yet. That’s a bit of drawback. Then again, in a pinch, you can basically build this your self with some duct tape and a few spare emergency blankets.

All that said against it, I do stand by my original assertion that this is an interesting idea worthy of further research. It is damn small went packed up and could be an invaluable emergency tool.


Casa Basica 1 and Casa Basica 2

Video clip (vimeo)

image credits: Creative Commons License photo credit: Daniel Riera/Martin Azua

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One Response to Casa Basica: Interesting stuff that we can’t have…yet

  1. 17 February, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Speaking as someone who had to spend a night in an emergency space blanket (by necessity), another issue is moisture. Even in the cold, your body and breath create a lot of moisture, which will accumulate inside the impermeable barrier of these sorts of material. The result is uncomfortable at best and a hypothermia risk if you have to emerge later into the cold while wet.

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