The Kansas Project Approach to Shelter

In our very first post, Introducing The Kansas Project, we at Another Design Experiment described how we are designing and building a dwelling that is equal parts laboratory, house, theatre, playground and shelter. This week we look more closely at how spaces for shelter will be integrated into our building design.


Obviously a single storm shelter would provide sufficient protection at almost any given house or building in Tornado Alley during a severe weather event. But since The Kansas Project is experimental in nature, we will be incorporating multiple types of shelters into the design to weigh pros and cons by exploring characteristics such as affordability, accessibility, durability and design integration.

There are three distinct types of shelters that we will be researching, documenting and employing. They are:







In particular, we focussed on ways in which the in-foundation shelter might provide both safety and experience. For example, we looked at the embrasure-style windows of medieval fortresses, considering whether a similar approach to apertures might allow for outward viewing while minimizing the potential for inward debris penetration. We created a model in order to document and illustrate this and other ideas related to our notion of a theatre-shelter.

shelter image

We will need to contract the expertise of professional structural engineers as we develop the design of the in-foundation, basement shelter. We know that we want this space to provide safety, but also experiential opportunities to see and hear the severe weather of Tornado Alley.

Last week John suggested that we look into the possibility of providing safe or even remote videography opportunities, and we believe that this might be that opportunity.

Storm shelters are an often-fabled…

But life-saving reality of Tornado Alley.

This year alone, the site of The Kansas Project has been impacted by severe thunderstorms on multiple occasions, two of which resulted in tornado touchdowns that narrowly avoided direct impact. The first of these was on April 8, and the second and more recent occurred on November 16. In each case, severe weather precautions – including a move into shelters – would have been required for any users onsite.

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