Good Thinking

Delta Shelter provides almost indestructible living space

Delta Shelter provides almost ...
The Delta Shelter provides secure living with low impact and a small footprint (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
The Delta Shelter provides secure living with low impact and a small footprint (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters closed (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters closed (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
The Delta Shelter's shutter-controlling hand wheel(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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The Delta Shelter's shutter-controlling hand wheel(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
Interior shot of the rugged Delta Shelter (Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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Interior shot of the rugged Delta Shelter (Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
The Delta Shelter's shutter-controlling hand wheel and drive mechanism (Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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The Delta Shelter's shutter-controlling hand wheel and drive mechanism (Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
Detail of the Delta Shelter's shutter-controlling drive mechanism (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
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Detail of the Delta Shelter's shutter-controlling drive mechanism (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters closed (Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters closed (Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
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The Delta Shelter with its protective shutters open(Photo: Benjamin Benschneider)
The rugged Delta Shelter endures a Washington winter (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
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The rugged Delta Shelter endures a Washington winter (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
Schematic of the Delta Shelter (Image: Olson Kundig Architects)
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Schematic of the Delta Shelter (Image: Olson Kundig Architects)
The Delta Shelter provides secure living with low impact and a small footprint (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
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The Delta Shelter provides secure living with low impact and a small footprint (Photo: Olson Kundig Architects/Tim Bies)
View gallery - 14 images

What do you do when you want to build a worry-free home on land that also happens to be a 100-year flood plain? If you're smart, you'll do what the owner of Delta Shelter did and have Olson Kundig Architects build you a metal fortress to withstand the elements in style. The compact 1,000 sq ft (93 sq m) steel-walled hideaway with a footprint of only 200 sq ft (18.6 sq m) looks ready to handle whatever the Washington wilderness can throw at it - even, perhaps, a 1,000-year flood.

The three-level cabin (bomb shelter is more like it) rests on four steel beams and is covered with heavy-duty 16-gauge hot-rolled sheet steel over plywood walls. As if that weren't unusual enough, it also has four 10 ft x 18 ft (3 m x 5.5 m) metal shutters that can be opened and closed with a large hand-powered wheel and a clever array of cables, drives shafts, spur gears and u-joints to protect the windows on each side - so no worries about getting caught with the shutters open in power outages when big storms roll through.

Schematic of the Delta Shelter (Image: Olson Kundig Architects)
Schematic of the Delta Shelter (Image: Olson Kundig Architects)

The ground floor is half carport, half storage room with the actual entrance on the middle level, which leads to two small bedroom/bathroom combos. The kitchen, living room and dining room are on the top level. Floors of industrial strength 3 in x 6 in (7.6 cm x 15.2 cm) tongue-and-groove lumber add further heft to the construction and steel decks cantilever out from both the top and middle levels for added space.

To minimize waste and adverse impact to the building site, the bulk of the structure was pre-fabricated elsewhere, thus adding to the overall sustainability of the entire project. Indeed, the steel's weathered, rusty patina makes the structure look like it's been there all along, maybe one of the highest compliments you can pay to an architect striving to be green.

Source: Olson Kundig Architects via ArchDaily

View gallery - 14 images
23 comments
Jay Lloyd
Perfect for the Mississippi Delta.
Von Meerman
I didn't see any mention of the house being leak-proof for that flood, or how far down the steel supports go to prevent the ground underneath it destabilising, but otherwise? Nifty.
Alan Belardinelli
Seems cool! I have seen som similar things done by stacking 5 shipping containers and then mod-ing them as needed for windows and such.
Jay Finke
ah yes to be young and have a BB gun, the top windows look like they would be fun to replace
Njall
Low impact living is an important idea; however, whenever I see a multilevel design like this I cannot help but think of the sizable portion of our population who could not possibly live in such a building. They cannot climb. Any design for habitation which is not accessible to all is a failure.
Jim Sadler
Here our big concern is hurricane winds. To really be safe a structure needs to withstand 200mph winds as well as debri flying in those winds. The next issue is heat. Can this unit be air conditioned in a hot, humid climate cheaply? We often see steel I-beans that are free standing twisted and bent to the ground by winds here.
Jansen Estrup
So many thoughtful and practical ideas being offered these days! Exciting stuff!
Sylvester Peter
How do they control over heating? With the sun hitting that thick steel on a hot day i could see those walls getting pretty warm.
Dawar Saify
But one off fancy.
chidrbmt
Many of the concerns in the comments don't apply in this location. Surely a design of this type can be tweaked for different locations. Neat design but stairs are often a handicap when old.