When catastrophes strike, it seems like there are always hundreds of people around who are eager to help with search and rescue efforts. Unfortunately, many disasters take place in areas that are unreachable by standard emergency vehicles and planes. On top of that, emergency vehicles are often disabled by large disasters like earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and floods.

“Skyshelter.zip” might just change all of that. A collapsible tower that can be easily towed to generally inaccessible areas by helicopter, Skyshelter.zip recently won first place in the 2018 eVolo Skyscraper Competition. It was conceived of and designed by Damian Granosik, Jakub Kulisa, and Piotr Pańczy, all of whom hail from Poland.

Basic Design


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Skyshelter.zip folds up like an accordion, creating a tidy flat package with minimum height and base proportions in relation to the structure’s footprint. Its compact size makes it easy to transport with just a single helicopter, unlike most tents and shelters, which are conventionally hauled in by a whole fleet of trucks. Since its multipurpose floors stack right on top of each other, Skyshelter.zip’s footprint is 30 times smaller than that of a similar-sized rescue area made up of tents and shipping containers. The building’s diminutive size also makes it easy to set up in small areas close to victims’ homes.

How It Works

First, the tower is removed from the box and securely attached to the ground. The design includes hardware that ensures a solid installation, even on loose or unstable earth, which is common in and around disaster sites. Once the base is secure, a large, controllable helium balloon is released from the inside of the tower. You can extend the tower to its maximum height or stop it at any other point by controlling the helium flow.


Lightweight slabs, which themselves are made on 3D copiers, are fastened to the balloon one on top of another. As helium fills up the space, the building’s internal and external walls are formed from fabric bonded to those slabs. The structural steel wires concurrently create a force that protects against strong horizontal winds.

Potential Uses


Since a fully expanded Skyshelter.zip is just a tower with many rooms, its versatility is wide open in the way of function. Probable uses for its rooms and levels include victim reception, first aid/triage areas, temporary housing for displaced people, and storage spaces for food and medical supplies. The structure also incorporates a vertical farm, which can easily be planted and sustained anywhere with surrounding soil. When it’s fully inflated, the Skyshelter.zip is highly visible from the ground and sky for miles around, making it easy to spot for both emergency crews and locals.

Sustainable Elements

Besides being a boon to disaster relief efforts, Skyshelter.zip also has a number of features that emphasize creativity and sustainability. The external surface of the structure is made from a nanomaterial derived from ETFE foil. This material has been equipped with a complex system of tiny perovskite solar cells, enabling the structure to produce the uncontaminated energy that’s often crucial to meeting the demands of emergency situations. Lastly, the balloon on top of the skyscraper has a unique shape that allow rainwater to flow through its center, where innovative filters clean it to make it safe for various uses.


Most disasters are unavoidable, but Skyshelter.zip is sure to make the recovery process faster and easier on everyone.