RDIC combines the benefits of rigid containers and inflatable architecture into a hybrid solution for post-disaster, provisional housing. Developed for the NYC Office of Emergency Management after winning the ‘What if New York…’ competition in 2008, the prefabricated compact living units (3 RDIC units = 1 40’ long shipping container) take advantage of quick deployment, flexible arrangements and pre-installed services and stored furnishings. A pre-deployed unit (9m2) expands to (19m2) more than doubling its size and can be joined with other units to form multiple living configurations using knock-out panels located on both side walls with flexible fabric links and steel floor panels (steel pegs inserted in the four corners). A single unit can be used as a studio while combinations vary between 1 to 3 bedrooms with prefabricated kitchen, storage and bath units installed as needed and loose furnishings packed in an unassembled state to minimise space requirements.
Each module is composed of two sections – one rigid (standard structural steel components support up to 8 units above) and one inflatable (two separate layers of translucent fabric allow for ambient light). Connections for services are prefabricated and installed on the surfaces while each housing module has a single point of connection for all services. The rear wall folds down to become the floor for the inflatable portion, lowered in place through the use of a manual crank with folding mechanisms cast into the concrete floor. The walkway connecting housing units rotates down from the front wall and pivots into place with the railing system folding up. In addition to the RDIC units, the proposed solution includes a base unit which can be used for a variety of activities at the ground level to provide essential services to the residential units (e.g. laundry, custodian, storage). The overall configuration of the units can be combined in a variety of ways to accommodate different site conditions.