This thesis explores an iterative modelling and fabrication process for fibre-based composites through the design of a lightweight, portable shelter for backpacking and mountaineering. Existing tent typologies compromise either lightness or strength, leaving users to choose between lightweight and minimal enclosures that require flat, dry land upon which to be pitched or bulky and robust shelter systems that can be suspended when a ground pitch is not an option. Designers' ability to address these trade-offs with more complex solutions has been limited by the amount of time required to manufacture one-off prototypes and the cost of high-performance materials. This project demonstrates how a design process that combines advanced material composites and computational modelling tools can be used to optimize the design of an ultralight tensile structure with fewer physical prototypes. Modelling and fabrication methods from racing sail design, which rely on finite element analysis models to inform the mapping of high-modulus filaments, are adapted to simulate and fabricate an uncompromising and adaptive bivouac system. Through a fibre-based composite architecture, the application of this integrative fabrication approach can significantly improve the portability and mechanical strength of a wide range of lightweight shelters.
Hybrid Bivouac: High-Modulus Composite Membranes for Portable Shelters