Out of the Dropbox

An emergency shelter turned information kiosk for Open House Melbourne.

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Having been craned into place at Federation Square in May 2013 for an exhibition of temporary shelters, then packed up and put into storage, Dropbox by SJB returns to the Melbourne CBD as an information booth for Open House Melbourne (27–28 July 2013).

The prefabricated modular structure was originally designed by SJB for the Emergency Shelter Exhibition (ESE) of housing prototypes for disaster-affected communities. SJB took a broad view of the exhibition brief, catering not just to individuals or families, but community needs for safe havens, many of which tend to outlast the initial crisis stage or become semi-permanent fixtures in a reconstruction phase. Through the use of coloured lighting and graphic icons, Dropbox is intended to be readily identifiable within a complex of temporary shelters, with the graphics signalling different functions. For the Melbourne ESE exhibition, SJB notionally made the structure a first-aid hub with the symbol of the cross cut into its plywood peak.

Steel frames support the perforated ply panels which can be quickly “unpacked” and locked into position once the Dropbox is craned onto the site. The modular floor system sits on an adjustable pedestal for levelling. Extruded platforms offer public seating outside the box, while the open-out panels offer shade. Dropbox is equipped with a PV solar panel, gel battery and regulator LED light with a polycarbonate diffuser, a notice-board plus shelves and storage niches pegged into place with dowels. Read more of the design thinking here.

Dropbox is currently parked outside the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street, where it will serve as the information kiosk during the Open House Melbourne weekend when 111 of the city’s most intriguing buildings – old and new – throw open their doors to the public. Make that 112.