This Human-Sized Origami Reimagines Emergency Shelters

When flat, the structure is about the size of a twin mattress. But when it’s inflated, walls widen, and a roof snaps into place.

One bright April day on a Harvard University lawn, David Melancon stepped out of a white plastic tent carrying a table. Then another. Then he made a few trips to produce 14 chairs. Then a bike, followed by a yellow bike pump. Finally, he carried out a large orange Shop-Vac. Melancon, a PhD candidate in applied mathematics, then closed the tent’s makeshift door behind him. This was what his team dubbed their “clown car” demonstration—proof that a huge number of objects could fit inside a tent

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