Home sweet dome? Eugene architect developing inflatable shelter

EUGENE, Ore. - Is an upscale Whoville made up of geodesic domes in Eugene's future?

That's probably a stretch, but a Eugene architect has come up with a unique idea.

In December, Lee Kersh won a national design competition for an "inflatable homeless shelter" from Autodesk's Design It Forward challenge.

Kersh said the concept is like a blow-up mattress that would provide an insulating shell around a homesite.

The shelter would be made out of surplus boat sail material with some clear panels on top that would allow for a passive solar shield around the living quarters.

Kersh said this is a little unusual for architects but said it would help a pressing need in the community.

He built a quarter scale mock-up of design. The next step is a full-scale prototype model.

Kersh is trying to raise $10,000 to build it.

The full-scale domes would be 8-feet high, 16-feet in width.

Kersh is working with Kendall Blake, a friend in the Eugene Yacht Club, who runs Prairie Sail and Canvas out by Fern Ridge Lake.

Blake has access to about 200 worn-out but still usable sails that can be the material for local crews to make the shelters.

Kersh said cities like Eugene would probably be interested in the shelters, and so might FEMA or the Red Cross for temporary shelters in disaster areas.

He has no idea when the prototype will be built or when this could go into production. For now, he's taking the project one step at a time.