SWAS tent by Tie Fan

Tie Fan of WE Design collective presented a conceptual design for an inflatable emergency shelter at the Alan Baxter gallery in London earlier this month.


The design consists of a double-walled tent, which is inflated and kept rigid by a solar-powered fan.


The tents would be erected vertically for use as a shelter or upside-down to form a water collector. The tents could be linked to make larger units, such as medical or community centres.


The SWAS tent was designed as part of a project focusing on providing relief to disaster areas called Delivery to Sichuan.


Here is some information from WE Design:


SWAS tent

SWAS tent is an inflatable structure for shelter, water storage, natural ventilation (air) and solar energy collector. The structure is easy to transport to the disaster site. A quiet fan keeps the tent inflated as long as needed. The structure is installed in less than five minutes and can be folded up in the accompanying bag when deflated.


Thin photovoltaic-cell film mounted to the inner layer of the surface provides electrical power. The double layer skin is the self supported structure and also provides excellent insulation at night. The geometry of the structure, informed by the principle of natural ventilation, helps to cool the internal space during the day.


The structure can be set up in three different ways. It can be set up vertically to be a family tent; it can be turned upside down to form a shelter and work as a rainwater and condensation water collector; it can also be horizontally connected to form a bigger space for public uses like medical centre, classroom and community centre etc.

The light weight, translucent material encloses the survivor, with integrated design considerations for solar power, ventilation and water supply. We want to make people feel like being inside an enormous bubble separated from the outside chaos and protected.

“The idea is that you receive not just a tent but a life supporting package”.

SWAS tent, design by the team led by Tie Fan, is one of the five schemes exhibited in the exhibition: Delivery to Sichuan. In this exhibition five design teams were invited to come up with a conceptual design to address some or all of the following issues: Fast delivery to natural disaster spot; easy construction; effective shelter; addressing short-mid term needs in emergency; exploring new material and innovation; memorial for the lost life; evoking hope for the people who survive.

Nearly 300 professionals attended the viewing evening event in central London Alan Baxter Gallery on 4th September. “Delivery to Sichuan” exhibition is organised by WE (West East) Design, which is a non-profit organisation, a multi-cultural, cross-disciplinary collective platform to serve the needs of all those design professionals interested in China, through a professional forum. Current members consist of architects, designers, artists and curators. The group is unique because most members are active Chinese and Sinophiles working in the high profile design offices of their profession, familiar and enthusiastic about the culture in both west and east. Most of the members have studied and worked both in China and abroad and encountered cultural and ideological differences between west and east. They form the unique ‘WE’ character reflecting in their design philosophy and feel like to use the best of ‘WE’ to create the excellence.