Outdoors

Lightweight coat doubles as a tent/sleeping bag for Syrian refugees

The jacket can be converted to a tent by inserting lightweight kite poles
The jacket can be converted to a tent by inserting lightweight kite poles
View 7 Images
The lightweight wearable shelter resembles a loose-fitting parka
1/7
The lightweight wearable shelter resembles a loose-fitting parka
The wearable shelter is made of lightweight and weather-resistant materials Tyvek and Mylar
2/7
The wearable shelter is made of lightweight and weather-resistant materials Tyvek and Mylar
The wearable shelter was designed specifically for the hardships faced by Syrian refugees
3/7
The wearable shelter was designed specifically for the hardships faced by Syrian refugees
The wearable shelter is designed to be cheap and sustainable
4/7
The wearable shelter is designed to be cheap and sustainable
The coat easily and quickly converts to a sleeping bag
5/7
The coat easily and quickly converts to a sleeping bag
Large pockets on the inside front allow for the storage and protection of important documents
6/7
Large pockets on the inside front allow for the storage and protection of important documents
The jacket can be converted to a tent by inserting lightweight kite poles
7/7
The jacket can be converted to a tent by inserting lightweight kite poles

Refugees fleeing their homes with little but the clothes on their backs face a multitude of challenges, the need for shelter often topping the list. To address this issue and several others, students at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London have created a jacket that doubles as a sleeping bag or tent.

A student team of 10 and their faculty tutors, Harriet Harris and Graham Brooker, designed the multi-function garment specifically with Syrian refugees in mind, who carry only but the barest of necessities on their arduous and unpredictable journey to Europe. The designers consulted with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) for details on the specific challenges faced by the refugees. The result was an item with three stages of use that address the conditions experienced on their journey, which is typically two to five weeks in length.

The wearable shelter is made from Tyvek, a strong yet lightweight material found in express mail envelopes. It's difficult to tear, and allows water vapor to pass through but not liquid water. The garment is also lined with Mylar, an insulating material able to hold in body heat. In keeping with the goals of the project, the materials are cheap and sustainable and not intended as a long-term solution.

The lightweight wearable shelter resembles a loose-fitting parka
The lightweight wearable shelter resembles a loose-fitting parka

As a coat, the item resembles a loose-fitting knee-length parka with a large hood. Several large pockets are located on the inside front for holding and protecting important documents. The jacket zips easily into a sleeping bag, while lightweight kite rods slotted through seams convert it to a tent, with visual instructions printed inside.

Still in prototype stage, the team intends to conduct tests on the wearable shelter, with designs for both a child and winter version to come. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to help fund the project, and runs until Feb. 19.

Backers are asked to donate at least £10 (about US$15) toward the project, with event invites and progress updates offered as a reward. The aim is to have the jacket ready for deployment in July. It will also be offered for sale as part of a buy one, give one campaign in the future.

You can watch the Kickstarter pitch video for the project below.

Sources: RCA, Kickstarter

Syrian Refugee Wearable Shelter

2 comments
Bob Flint
Need to fold in such a way that the dirt from the ground stays outside and is not against you. Investigate the white woven tarps with bi-directional black reinforcement for maximum life span. Interesting effort, perhaps different color (to much kkk'sh)with the hood up.
Brian M
Perhaps a course in logic and morality might be a better use of their student time. Designers, inventors have moral obligations with what they design. Encouraging refuges to make this perilous journey is both naïve and wrong, especially when they pass through countries of safe haven. Such people have the deaths of these migrants on their conscience, including the death of children. Public opinion and politics in Europe is turning against these so called asylum seekers. Everyone has a RIGHT to a safe haven, not a trip to a richer country of their choice! Perhaps spend time designing something that would actually be useful to a law abiding refuge?
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.