It is common knowledge in earthquake-prone places that a door may be your best bet for nearby safety if you cannot get to more-solid ground. Since doors are basically everywhere, it is a good place to start. That is where this unusual emergency shelter design begins, but not where it ends.
Taking that everyday idea and reinforcing it, Younghwa Lee (MA Design: Product and Space design student at Kingston University) created a prototype door that anchors to the frame at the base, but folds down to provide protection from above on demand.
The slope both provides a table-like overhang and deflects debris due to its angle, rather than allowing it to gather (and potentially buckle the shelter from) above. Each doorway is designed to shelter up to two people if needed, and comes complete with a small cabinet with emergency items like flashlights in the event of power failure and for dealing with other post-quake contingencies.
Here’s some more info on how it works, from Science Daily:
“‘My starting point was the inherent strength of a door frame within a wall — they often remain standing when many of the supporting walls fall down. Also there are more doors inside most homes than there are people so everyone in the house should be able to find a door,’ Younghwa, who is studying on the MA Design: Product and Space course, said.”
“‘Once an earthquake starts there are usually up to 15 seconds of relatively ‘safe’ vertical vibration before the destructive horizontal vibration starts,’ Younghwa explained. ‘The guidance for building occupants during an earthquake is to remain inside the building and take shelter under a strong table. My door is designed to be stronger and more stable than a table and — as it isn’t a flat surface — most debris will slide off it.'”
“Younghwa, 31, based her research on Istanbul as the US Geological Survey has estimated there is a 70 per cent chance the city will be hit by an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the richter scale before 2030, potentially killing as many as 150,000 people. She believes her doors could be inexpensively incorporated in many of the city’s homes.”