11 August 2009

Bambulance Project

As a designer who cares about how my skills might be used for those on the margins, you can imagine how delighted I was to find an organization in my own backyard that wants to do the same! Design For Development is dedicated to using the design process as a problem-solving tool to address issues in poverty-stricken areas of the world.

In 2007, DFD and a few interns from ECUAD developed a project to improve healthcare access in underserved communities by designing a safe, affordable and sustainable means of medical transportation. The Bambulance is a bicycle–pulled emergency medical transport device created in response to the lack of safe, affordable and sustainable healthcare transportation in underserved communities in the developing world. It was designed by: Philippa Mennell (Canada) Chris Ryan (Canada) Niki Dun (Canada) and Philippe Schlesser (Luxembourg).

With the aim of saving lives by improving emergency transit times for communities where motorized transport is unavailable or inappropriate, the Bambulance is a cost-efficient and sustainable trailer and stretcher combination, pared down to essential materials. Composed almost entirely of bamboo, bicycle inner tube, and reused trucking tarp, the Bambulance is designed to be affordable to community members, utilizing local materials and trade skills in its construction.

Inspired by skin-on-frame building techniques, the chassis frame and stretcher are fabricated using simple hand tools and craft processes, making the parts easy to assemble and disassemble for repair and replacement. Bamboo – an underutilized locally available resource in Western Kenya and other African regions - is inexpensive, sustainable, lightweight and strong.

With the initial design taking place under the guidance of the Design For Development Society and in consultation with Kenyan partners and healthcare providers, the Bambulance will first be manufactured and piloted in western Kenya.

Prototypes are currently in production. Pilot project scheduled for early 2010.

The exciting news? The Bambulance is a finalist for the Index:Award Design To Improve Life!

Process Video:

Manufactured/Produced by: Pilot project manufacturing by the Community Transformers and Women’s Equality Empowerment Project, Nairobi, Kenya.

Additional credits:
Project concept, development and implementation: Design for Development Society
Project assistance and student interns: Emily Carr University

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