P. Edronkin

The Construction Of Underground Shelters (II).

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"Shelters built with prior calculation require some knowledge of engineering, physics and construction techniques, and should be designed with care.

Particularly important is the exact and correct determination of the ideal place to build the shelter in the first place. If you live in Europe, most parts of the USA or Japan, you probably will not get familiar with the idea easily, but for those of us living in fairly isolated regions such as Patagonia, there is actually a lot of uncharted, unused and virgin terrain to choose from!

The stone oven of the shelter at Lake Los Rizos.

Not all places are equal in terms of stability, humidity, exposure to the elements and other factors. Even variations of a few metres can alter the equation significantly.

Shelters can be constructed using materials found in the area, or prefabricated and brought by helicopter, horse, truck or (you guessed it!) on your backpack (cement and all).

The construction of a shelter.
The shelter at Lake Los Rizos, some days after its construction
began. An incipient pirca can be seen around the dome.

Such shelters can be easily supplemented by other constructions, such as stone ovens, dams, trails, small bridges and other structures in the area which can transform a rather rudimentary construction into some kind of wilderness palace.

In order to build a shelter the size of a small cabin, you need the equivalent of four to seven people to transport all the required components to the chosen spot (that is, you go with three to six more people, or you make the trip seven times, or anything in between). 

The interior of an R6 shelter.
Members of the Gea cooking goulasch inside an R6 shelter in Patagonia.

If the shelter is well designed and the prefab components are good, you can erect and finish the structure in seven to fifteen days. Emergency shelters can be constructed in a matter of hours, but then again, we are talking here about real constructions.

The design and simplicity of the prefab components is of much importance: these components must be interchangeable, clearly identified with numbers which identify each one of them, and their final assemblage must have been rehearsed before the actual construction.

For mor einformation on shelters, click here."

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