So as you know, the hexayurt is basically what I’m about. It’s a deceptively simple shelter – the simplest one can be built for less than $100 and house a family of five – far cheaper and more durable than a tent. The Hexayurt Project is an Free Hardware / Open Hardware project which embodies everything I could master about diffusion of innovation and getting ideas to mass adoption. It’s broad-based, involves many different communities of practice, and designed to operate without funding to overcome structural barriers in aid.
This has been a good year for the hexayurt project. We got an evaluation unit up in Haiti. There were more hexayurts than ever before at Burning Man. And something really amazing happened on hexayurt design: there are new hexayurts.
The first new hexayurt designs came from Edmund Harriss. Earlier this year, Edmund solved the problem which started my entire involvement with domes – how do you make a geodesic dome without wasting a quarter of your 4′x8′ sheet materials? Where Buckminster Fuller had looked to spherical trigonometry to produce materials-efficient buildings, and come up with the geodesic, Edmund looked to concave tilings, and produced the nearodesics. The nearodesics are almost geodesic, but produce no waste at all when cut from standard-sized industrial materials, making them ideal for aid projects on tight budgets, particularly for schools. There are two – one “tri-dome” which is low to the ground and about three times the size of the hexayurt, and the “quad-dome” which is very nearly a hemisphere, has nearly-vertical walls, and would make an ideal general purpose building.
The second new hexayurt design came from Scott Davis and Dylan Toymaker. The H13 solves one of the oldest quirks of the hexayurt design – how do you get a full height door way? Scott took a creative leap, switched around a couple of triangles, and came up with a design which for just one additional sheet of plywood gets you a structure with a full 8′ entry-way, much more interior walkable space, and (frankly) a much better over-all aesthetic. I’m incredibly pleased with the H13, and you can see a lot of pictures of the H13 hexayurt design over at Dylan’s blog. Really a fantastic piece of work, and I suspect it will become a very common hexayurt in years to come. I’m very grateful to Scott and Dylan for placing their work into the public domain along side all the other hexayurts, for everyone to use.
I’m very proud to see that the project has drawn support from designers who have gone beyond what I thought was possible and created new structures, of real utility and beauty, that I myself would never have created. The spirit of the Free Software and Free Hardware movement, and it’s Open variants, has always been that working together we can do what we could never have done alone. I kept chipping away at the problem and kept the lights on until chance and fortune united the unsolved problems with the people with the answers.