Homeless residents of Brussels may soon have temporary protection from the chilly European weather, thanks to an entrepreneur’s simple solution.
Xavier Van den Stappen is being hailed for creating two dozen collapsible cardboard tents that have been distributed to rough sleepers in the Belgian city.
“Cardboards are light, they keep the heat, and if they don’t get wet, they are pretty resistant,” Van den Stappen told The New York Times last month. “The tents won’t last for months, and this is just an emergency response, but the concept itself can be sustainable.”
Van den Stappen says that he first started making the tents for his ORI-GAMI project because material tents are illegal to use on the streets of Brussels and city police have told local news sources that cardboard is more tolerable. While homeless people may have the option to stay at a shelter, facilities can quickly fill to capacity during the winter. Other individuals are unable to stay in a shelter because their pets are not allowed in the buildings.
The origami-inspired design of the tent means that it can easily be folded down to a manageable size and carried on the user’s back. Van den Stappen’s current prototype can house two people, and all of the cardboard that he has used thus far was donated by a factory. Other businesses have already contacted the entrepreneur about donating their own recycled cardboard for future models.
Van den Stappen says that he is waiting to gather feedback from the 20 homeless people currently testing the tents before he produces any more.
This is not the first time that someone has made origami-inspired tents for the homeless, either. Los Angeles-based college grad Tina Hovsepian made headlines several years ago after she founded Cardborigami: a company that uses foldable tents for homeless communities in America and refugee camps overseas.
While sleeping under a cardboard roof may not address the root of the problem, both designers are quick to emphasize that the tents are a temporary solution for those who need one.
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