The Solar Tent project - University of Witwatersrand, School of Architecture.

I was invited as a visiting lecturer to teach at the School of Architecture, where I proposed to the students that we should build a little solar demonstration structure. Like the Shed project, all the materials were donated by manufacturers, and the tent was built by a group of students in a week.


The slope was slightly sloping, and it was partly dug into the slope, with a butyl waterproofing membrane wrapped around the sloping sides and back and under the paved floor. The side walls were timber framed and insulated with polystyrene slabs. The front facing south was timber framed with polycarbonate transperent panels and lightweight glazed doors. Above the doors was a shelf with plastic water tanks behind the transparent panels. Outside the plastic were insulated shutters which hinged down to reflect sun onto the black water tanks during the day. The roof was a double layer waterproofed fabric structure, supported from a cable net, hanging from 4 scaffold poles, tied back by cables to weighted blocks on the ground. In between the roof layers was fibre glass insulation.


The idea of this structure was to show that solar energy absorbed in the water tanks during the day could keep the insulated tent warm into the evening.