More often than not, we're usually enthusiastic about small, mobile dwellings, thanks to their flexibility, affordability and their undeniable "cool" factor, especially when it comes to their design. That said, it's unfortunately not the case with the human-powered mobile cube Bao House by Chinese firm dot Architects: it's pulled by a modified tricycle, sure, but we wonder what compelled them to create the shelter itself completely out of spray polyurethane foam (SPF), which is typically used behind finished walls as insulation.
Designed for Get It Louder 2012, a Beijing exhibition of visual art and design, the rigid but lightweight, water-resistant and thermally-insulated structure was created by injecting SPF into a timber and fabric mold, held in place with pins and string in order to create the puffy surface.
As an insulation material, SPF does have some green cred thanks to its high R-value, but there's still the risk of out-gassing toxic compounds during the curing period (as we mention in this previous post, DIYers should take caution in applying it themselves), so as a standalone building material used in this way, we're not so sure about it.
As one commenter notes, "...[T]here are many legitimate arguments against the use of [SPF,] a petrochemical, high-embodied energy, non-renewable, non-recyclable, non-permeable, difficult to remove, problematic for renovation, and expensive insulating material." We're inclined to agree in this case.
"Bao" means bulge in Chinese, referring to the project's fluffy, bubble-like look, says designer Ning Duo on Dezeen:
SPF is normally concealed behind the finishing surface and functions only as supplementary material. Bao House tries to explore this common material and reinterpret it in a new fabrication system.
The roof is made out of translucent polycarbonate panelling; there's only one sliding entrance door, and as far as we can tell, no windows.
Cured or not, I'm not sure I would want to sleep in this thing for any period of time. Check out more at dot Architects.