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In a holding pattern

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Award-winning inflatable fabric structure design needs development partners.

In 2008, the New York City Office of Emergency Management announced the 10 winners of its design competition based on the scenario of a Category 3 storm hitting the city. Viraline Architecture LLC won with its Rapidly Deployable Inflatable Container featuring two inflatable layers of translucent fabric with flame-retardant Thinsulate™ sandwiched between. The units could be stacked for high-density housing. Unfortunately, according to Principal James Vira, the city did not build prototypes due to the recession

“After Superstorm Sandy hit, there was renewed interest in provisional housing, but it turned out the city had been working on its own without the input of the competition winners and had been developing prototypes of provisional housing ideas,” he says. “The solution was a basic shipping container not necessarily tailored to New York City.”

Viraline’s fabric structure was easily deployed and inflated, dampened wind noise and allowed natural light to filter in. But, Vira says, “People have a hard time wrapping their head around that being something viable and durable.”

Viraline, he adds, is “open to people who would like to develop the idea with us.”

Janice Kleinschmidt is a freelance writer and editor based in San Diego, Calif.

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