Arthur Brutter & Ido Bruno
Earthquake Proof Table
Bezalel Labs Ltd., Jerusalem , Israel
Earthquake Proof Table
If students are going to be instructed to take refuge under a table, that table should provide adequate protection – and this one does.
It doesn’t answer every question in the event of an earthquake but it can save many, many lives.
Quite an engineering achievement at the cost, especially when compared to earthquake-proofing the building.
Earthquake Proof Table
The “Earthquake-Proof Table” is a school table designed to protect pupils during and immediately after an earthquake. The table designed for a range of building types and collapse
scenarios. It provides a comprehensive solution by creating both covering protection
and passageways for rescue team accessibility.
At any given time, more than 300,000,000 pupils worldwide are facing impending
danger since their schools are not built to withstand an earthquake. Of special
concern are areas along geological rift lines and children in developing countries,
where construction quality can be poor.
While it is common to instruct pupils to crawl under tables in case of an earthquake,
existing non earthquake designated classroom tables often turn into lethal traps
for those taking refuge.
In addition to various weight and ceiling collapse patterns, the Earthquake-Proof
Table addresses the financial limitations of the schools that need it through
economical, yet responsible production methods and inexpensive materials.
Designed according to sound ergonomic principles, the Earthquake table is light
enough for two children to lift and move, as well as adapted to classroom cleaning
and other routine, non-emergency needs.
The project began as an academic project. As such, it required extensive design research in many areas.
When the project transformed into a commercial project, many engineering and design considerations were considerably redone and reinforced.
Summary of intensive/extensive R&D issues:
1. User needs: The definition of users was extended to include as many possible stakeholders and potential users as possible. These include school children and staff (pedagogical and technical)
schoolchildren parents, emergency rescue teams (various level personnel), an array of educational system personnel, and relevant manufacturers. The design team conducted Surveys of educational system equipment locally and world-wide. Interviews were conducted with school directors, emergency agency personnel (including highly experienced personnel from Turkey and Haiti earthquake rescue teams), structural engineers including earthquake specialists, agencies that are potential partners for commercial activity in both underdeveloped and highly developed countries and school furniture manufacturers.
2. Ergonomics: extensive research and testing including a large number of full scale prototypes.
3. Engineering and Impact Durability The table has undergone dozens of impact tests during a 24 month period. The tests were conducted on full scale and real material prototypes, in a number of different test environments. The table has successfully withstood a series of rigorous vertical impact tests in the world leading Structural Engineering department of Padua University, Italy. A test report is available upon request. Two structural Engineers were consulted during various stages of development.
The project is a collaboration between a graduate student, a senior lecturer, and the Bezalel academy labs ltd. As such it is required to be of the highest standard and integrity both academically and commercially.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Quite simply, it is a life saving device!
It is a rare opportunity where designers have a chance to create a meaningful impact in a life threatening situation. We are happy (and proud) to have taken part in creating such a solution. In many countries that are under threat of earthquake related building collapse, parents are afraid to send their children to schools which are situated in unsafe buildings.
In this sense the earthquake proof table is also a means of encouraging education or at least decreasing obstructions to a continuous education in stress free environments.
The Earthquake proof table is not intended for a specific community but rather to any community that is under threat of earthquake related building collapse.
During R&D stages of the project we conducted surveys of different underprivileged communities, interviews of people from different communities as well as professionals that have worked in earthquake crisis zones.
A great amount of design effort was put into creating a solution that will be both highly useable and affordable to countries with limited educational budgets.
A lot of effort was directed at the functionality in the normal 99.9% of day-to-day use as a school table – looking especially at the needs of the children and the school staff.
1. The table is designed in such a way as to encourage manufacturing close to the intended area of use. This will not only contribute to local economies, but will also be more environmentally sustainable.
We are prepared to instruct and support local manufacturing even in countries where manufacturing expertise is limited.
As we are writing, negotiations with various countries and agencies, including UN agencies, are under way.
2. We are currently developing more models – different sizes and styles for different ages and needs, other earthquake proof furniture for other areas of need, and solving various technical challenges that will make the table even more inexpensive, easy to use, affordable and accessible.
3. Equipping a class with Earthquake proof tables is about 10 times cheaper than strengthening its walls, and more than 400 times cheaper than building a new class/school that is up to earthquake building standards. It has been recognized (eg. by the Israeli “prime ministers special earthquake committee” ) as the cheapest solution available.
4.The table itself is more durable that most existing school tables, as such it creates a long term sturdy solutions for schools with limited means for equipment renewal.