Concrete Clouds

The global demand for housing is surging at an unprecedented pace, driven by rapid urbanisation and population growth. This demand is however in stark contrast to the general position of the construction industry, which is experiencing a significant worldwide labour shortage in the construction industry, particularly in skilled labour. This proposal asks if there are simpler solutions to redefine living spaces. By utilising innovative construction techniques, particularly inflatable formwork, this project re-imagines traditionally deployable concrete shelters as permanent places for living, that are faster in their construction and less carbon intensive. 

While deployable concrete shelters are not a new concept, their design is typically driven by engineering requirements rather than architectural quality, with internal configurations often dictated by the construction process. The context of a microhome offers an ideal testing ground to advance this concept into a sophisticated architectural language, envisioning a permanent residence shaped by both architectural innovation and construction methodology. 

Each zone within the home is scaled to maximise comfort whilst maintaining spatial efficiency. The living area is a sanctuary for relaxation, connected to the bathroom via a pocket door. The kitchen area a hub for nourishment and social interaction, and the sleep area a cocoon of comfort and privacy underneath an arched units that encapsulates the inhabitant. This thoughtful division ensures that each aspect of daily life is supported by an environment tailored to its purpose. Beyond the internal layout, a private concentric garden is visible from all areas of the home, providing a constant connection to nature and enhancing overall well-being. It serves as a kitchen garden, supplying fresh produce and reinforcing a self-sufficient lifestyle. The garden’s design also promotes mental health, offering a serene space for contemplation and relaxation. 

The starting point for the design is the designation of three primary zones: rest, eat, and sleep. This deliberate division of space stands in contrast to open-plan layouts that have become commonplace in the microhome typology. Drawing inspiration from studies on the benefits of spatial separation, this segmentation is designed to organize the mind and enhance well-being. By creating distinct areas for different activities, the home fosters a sense of order and tranquillity . The curvilinear plan and softened geometry of the roof helps seamlessly blends each zone, forming a cohesive home that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The convex ribbed pattern is a direct product of the inflatable formwork. This profile not only enhances the structural integrity of the concrete but also creates a distinctive architectural language, where form follows function. Using inflatable formwork aims to minimise human error, ensuring consistent, precise forms every time. By embedding intelligence into the formwork, the design can be both innovative and reliably executed within predefined bounds. 

A feature of the isometric geometry is its modularity. By linking individual modules together, larger homes can be created to accommodate various family sizes and needs. This flexibility allows for the creation of networks of homes, fostering a sense of community and interconnectedness. The building form has numerous environmental benefits. The use of lowcarbon concrete and reusable inflatable formwork further enhances these benefits from a carbon perspective. These innovations contribute to lower emissions during the construction process, decrease material usage, and optimise energy efficiency, ultimately supporting more sustainable building practices. In conclusion, this proposal for a microhome constructed from inflatable formwork offers a revolutionary approach to residential architecture. It combines rapid deployment, durability, and thoughtful design to create a home that is both practical and beautiful. By addressing the need for spatial separation and integrating nature into the living environment, it re-imagines what a home can be, responding to the evolving needs of occupants while addressing the wider context of the construction industry’s need to evolve.