Student opens door to earthquake shelter

Kingston University student Younghwa Lee has designed a novel door that could provide shelter for two people when an earthquake strikes.

Initially, Lee’s door looks unremarkable but, in an emergency, it can swivel horizontally on a central pivot a little less than a metre above the ground. The bottom half of it remains on the ground, anchoring it to the floor and providing additional protection.

There is a small cabinet built into the door frame in which Younghwa has housed a wind-up torch, sachets of drinking water and medical supplies.

The student, who came to Kingston from the South Korean capital Seoul in 2009, said it should take only five seconds to convert the door into a makeshift protective capsule.

Lee said: ’Once an earthquake starts there are usually up to 15 seconds of relatively “safe” vertical vibrations before destructive horizontal vibrations start. The guidance for building occupants during an earthquake is to remain inside the building and take shelter under a strong table. My door is designed to be stronger and more stable than a table and – as it isn’t a flat surface – most debris will slide off it.’

Lee believes her doors could be inexpensively incorporated into many homes in Istanbul, a city that the US Geological Survey estimates has a 70 per cent chance of being hit by an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale before 2030, potentially killing as many as 150,000 people.

Engineering is vital to help poorer countries such as Haiti prepare for quakes, resulting in more durable buildings and, as a result, significantly fewer fatalities. Click here to read more.