Shape Shifter Shelter


Imagine if every person had a roof over their heads

Imagine if you could live in harmony with nature

Imagine if you could design your own house

Imagine if homeless tent communities looked decent

Imagine if you could build your house anywhere without a permit

Imagine if you lost your house due to a natural disaster and you could replace it within days

Imagine if you could live in an architecturally designed home without hiring an architect

Imagine if you could pack and move your house in the back of a car

Imagine if you could build your house in an hour

Imagine if your house was energy independent

Imagine if your house was a wildlife sanctuary

Imagine if you could add onto your house at anytime

Imagine if you didn’t need to cut down an acre of forest for your house

Imagine if your house cost less than a car

Imagine if you didn’t need to dig a hole for your foundation

Imagine if your house was as heavy as a sliding glass door

Imagine if you didn’t need to cut down any trees to fit your house on your site


Freestanding Structures– Any structure that does not rely on another existing structure for support. A house is a freestanding structure, as is a garden or yard gazebo, a detached garage, or a self-contained shed or greenhouse.

Pole Tents – Supported by poles around the perimeter with a center pole. Outside the tent, stakes and guy lines work to keep the tent in place.

Example of a Pole Tent

Frame Tents – Designed with a frame rather than poles with open space below. Frame tents also require stakes and ratchets for anchoring. Unlike pole tents, these ratchets can be installed closer to the legs as the frame better supports the fabric.

Example of a Frame Tent
Example of a Frame tent

Clear Span Tents–  Unlike both pole and frame tents, clear span structures do not require any guy lines. Rather, their stakes are driven through a “base plate” that rests on a pad not a foundation. They can stand up against fierce winds, heavy rain, and other inclement weather. Unlike frame tents, clear span tents are designed for long-term use. Many individuals in the warehouse and construction field use clear span tents because they are reliable yet more affordable than a brick and mortar structure. Clear span structures are modular and can be added onto. They are allowed as a semi permanent building if they meet the structural requirements under the International Building code.

example of a Clear Span Tent
Example of a Clear Span or Losberger Tent

Mobile home – A prefabricated structure, built on a permanently attached chassis with wheels before being transported to a site. Used as permanent homes, or for holiday or temporary accommodation, they are left often permanently or semi-permanently in one place, but can be moved, and may be required to move from time to time for legal reasons.

Example of a Mobile Home

Tiny House – A dwelling that is 400 square feet (37 sq m) or less in floor area excluding lofts. It is difficult to get a permit to build a tiny house and that is why you see many Tiny Houses on wheels.

Example of a Tiny House on wheels


Buckminster Fuller visited the University of Minnesota School of Architecture when my father was studying architecture under Ralph Rapson in the early 1960s. During the visit the students helped him construct a Geodesic Dome.

Since that time, Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Designs have made their way into popular culture and all sorts of other industries but he is best known for his segmented static domes made from triangles.

Some of the advantages of geodesic design include:

  1. Modular Design
  2. Inert Surfaces
  3. Rigid
  4. Aerodynamic
  5. Lightweight
  6. Movable
  7. Light Footprint
  8. Transported easily and inexpensively
  9. Manufactured


The inspiration for the Parasol Modular Imagination House was found while vacationing in Las Vegas. A high end store in one of the casinos was selling a designer hand bag by Issey Miyake.

After seeing the bag in the window I not only had a strong urge to own it, (first time ever I wanted to buy a purse) but was awestruck with its striking simplicity of design. Since poor architects can’t afford $800 designer purses I found a cheap replica from China which I ordered and then immediately cut up with a scissor. The hexagonal pattern preformed and performed as expected in that it created a multitude of organic shapes.

Parasol Modular Imagination House model laying flat
Parasol Modular Imagination House model erected

Imagination House

The Parasol Modular Imagination House, designed by me, an architect, is designed to inspire your positive energy. It certainly did for me. This structure is meant to fill a need for inexpensive and/or emergency housing for those who are hard pressed to afford something more.

The Parasol Modular Tent Home is semi permanent housing. In contrast to a mobile home, this structure can be situated anywhere with the understanding that it is a temporary. Therefore, it doesn’t have to be on wheels, it doesn’t need a permit to erect and can be left standing indefinitely.

Some of the additional advantages of the Parasol Modular Imagination House include:

  1. Less expensive than traditional housing
  2. Smaller carbon footprint
  3. Insulation (with Aerogel insulation)
  4. Water proof
  5. Wind proof
  6. Fire Proof
  7. Mold proof
  8. Acoustically Absorbing
  9. Transluscent
  10. Allows in natural daylight and night time light
  11. Allows circadian rhythms
  12. Integrated LED ambient lighting
  13. Dynamic shapes
  14. Futuristic finishes
  15. Flexible spaces
  16. Owner Assembled
  17. Easily added onto
  18. No foundations required
  19. Can be installed in emergency situations
  20. Recyclable

Detail of the Parasol Modular Imagination House

  1. Exterior Fabric ePTFE coated by AEROFLON
  2. Insulation Shell High Impact PolyStyrene Molded Plastic
  3. Insulation Aerogel SPACELOFT™ Hydrophobic Matt 6mm
  4. Interior Fabric PTFE-coated acoustical membrane vapor barrier liner

In Situ

Buckminster Fuller thought about more than just architecture. He was an idealist and viewed the totality of human kind on earth. He popularized terms like “Spaceship Earth”.

The first image of earth taken by astronaut Bill Anders on Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968.
William Anders/NASA via AP

If we want to have an earth for humans to live on, one of the vitally important things we must do is live in balance with nature and reestablish lost wilderness on our planet. With this in mind, the goal of the house tent is to replace destroyed buildings with new tent homes but also in situ landscaping, sun and water collection. This new tent house includes native wilderness restoration of the site and off-grid energy independence.

Some of the advantages of reestablishing nature:

  1. Grounding
  2. Calming
  3. Passive cooling
  4. Food
  5. Water
  6. Fresh Air
  7. Sense of purpose
  8. Combating Climate change
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