By Adam Williams
Inspired by a perceived lack of adequate services for victims of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, a team of engineering and architecture students at Pennsylvania State University have joined forces to create something that can help. The result, dubbed Apparatus X, is a work-in-progress concept that seeks to transform an aging RV into a flexible unit that can serve as an off-grid disaster relief vehicle, a micro-home, and a mobile design studio.
Though it's still in the design stage and thus subject to change as the details are worked out, the Penn State students envision that Apparatus X will be ideally suited to the specific ongoing needs of the Lower 9th Ward, an area of New Orleans that's even now not fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Once built, the the disaster relief vehicle will be deployed to the area to help foster a sense of community.
The interior of Apparatus X is split into three main sections: Work Space, Flex Space, and Live Space. Work Space offers work surfaces, tools, and fabrication equipment to aid the reconstruction of a devastated site. Flex Space is a place for social gatherings that encourages collaboration from community members. Live Space contains a kitchen, toilet and storage area – but no sleeping quarters – allowing the emergency relief team manning the Apparatus X to live among the disaster victims and become more integrated, so as to better suit their needs. There's also a porch and elevated work surface.
Apparatus X will operate off-grid once it reaches a given destination, and will include adequate provisions, along with a "garden in the box" that facilitates easier and quicker growing of food. A rainwater collection and purification system, combined with a water recycling system handles all water needs, while a solar panel array is said to produce 2,000 kWh – or enough to power a 2,000 square foot (186 sq m) home, according to the calculations of the students.
The Apparatus X team has turned to crowdfunding website Indiegogo to raise the necessary money to turn concept into fully-fledged design, ready for deployment to New Orleans.
The video below sheds some more light on the project.