Earthquake-proof table combines functionality and safety
Design student and instructor crafted a table meant to withstand natural disasters and possibly save lives.
While studying at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem in 2010, Arthur Brutter joined the rest of the world in watching news coverage of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. It's estimated that 200,000 people died in the catastrophe.
"I looked at pictures of a school that was crushed in the earthquake in Haiti, and they really shocked me," Brutter told CNN.
So he decided to channel that shock and despair into something productive. With the help of his instructor, Ido Bruno, Brutter decided to devote a school project to protecting children from future disasters.
Traditional school desks are not built to absorb the impacts that a major earthquake can wreak, Brutter said. Since students are now instructed to crawl under a table when an earthquake hits, he surmised that the tables themselves may have led to or exacerbated injuries. Factor in the heightened risks posed by structurally unsound buildings like those typically found in underdeveloped countries, and the casualties can be immeasurable. But, thought Brutter, could they be preventable?
He and Bruno developed an earthquake-proof school desk that can withstand a one-ton impact, yet is light enough for two children to lift on their own.
Brutter said he and Bruno used geometry to calculate the ideal dimensions and weight of the table. They interviewed school directors and emergency responders around the world, including personnel who participated in rescue efforts in Turkey and Haiti. They considered several scenarios and the need to maintain an escape route, as well as daily maintenance practices at the schools. From their research, they were able to build a table that spreads weight evenly across the table's surface, ensuring that it holds its shape in the event of a disaster.
Since its invention in 2012, the table has been nominated for the Design of the Year award by the Design Museum in London. It was also acquired by New York's Museum of Modern Art for its permanent architecture and design collection.
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