PROJECT

A COMPACT MODULAR HOUSING UNIT

Figura 1 shows a perspective view of a modular housing unit according to the present disclosure, in a first condition;
Figura 2 shows a front view of the housing unit according to Figura 1;
Figura 3 shows a side view of the housing unit according to Figura 1;
Figura 4 shows a top plan view of the housing unit according to Figura 1;
Figura 5 shows a front view of the inside of the housing unit according to Figura 1, from which some parts have been removed;
Figura 6 shows a top plan view of the inside of the housing unit according to Figura 1, from which some parts have been removed;
Figura 7 and Figura 8 show respectively a perspective view and a side view of the housing unit according to Figura 1 in a position where used by a user;
Figura 9, Figura 10 and Figura 11 show perspective views of the housing unit according to Figura 1 in other positions used by a user;
Figura 12Figura 13Figura 14Figura 15, Figura 16, Figura 17, Figura 18, show side views of the inside of the housing unit according to Figure 1, from which some parts have been removed, in a plurality of positions for use by a user;
Figura 19 shows a front view of the housing unit according to Figura 1, with parts detached;
Figura 20 and Figura 21 show respectively a front view and a side view of the housing unit according to Figura 1, in a second condition;
Figura 22 shows a front view of a second embodiment of a modular housing unit according to the present disclosure, in a first condition;
Figura 23 and Figura 24 show respectively a front view and a side view of the housing unit according to Figura 22, in a second condition;
Figura 25 and Figura 26 show, in front views, two intermediate conditions of the housing unit according to Figura 22 during transition towards the second condition;
Figura 27 shows a partially cross-sectioned perspective view of a third embodiment of a modular housing unit according to the present disclosure, in a first condition;
Figura 28 shows a perspective view of the housing unit according to Figura 27, in a second condition;
Figura 29 and Figura 30 show front views of a fourth embodiment of a modular housing unit according to the present disclosure in a first condition and a second condition, respectively;
Figura 31 and Figura 32 show perspective views of a fifth embodiment of a modular housing unit according to the present disclosure in a first condition and a second condition, respectively;
Figura 33 and Figura 34 show front views of a sixth embodiment of a modular housing unit according to the present disclosure in a first condition and a second condition, respectively;
Figura 35 , Figura 36 and Figura 37 show respective examples of use of modular housing units according to the present disclosure.
With reference to the accompanying figures, a modular housing unit according to the present disclosure is generally indicated by the reference Figura 1.
The housing Figura 1 is useful for providing accommodation, hospitality and/or shelter for a user, in particular in order to stay, pass time and/or sleep in a closed environment protected against external agents. In other words, it is a housing of “compact” type which may be used both in normal conditions and in emergency conditions.

The housing unit Figura 1 comprises a box-shaped structure Figura 2 or shell, which encloses an inner chamber adapted to house the user. Basically, the inner chamber is a space or volume which is bounded by the walls of the box-shaped structure and forms said closed environment protected against external agents.

La Figura 35 shows a floating sea platform on which a plurality of housing units Figura 1 have been installed. For example, this is useful for providing a rest area for workers on an open-sea oil rig.
La Figura 36 shows a plurality of housing units which are arranged around a dome; the housing units communicate with the dome by means of passages which are each connected to the first access opening of a respective housing unit. For example, this is useful for providing a protected area in which the persons may perform a common activity, each person having at his/her disposal moreover a private housing unit for staying and sleeping in at night-time. In addition to the single-person housing unit it is also possible to provide housing units which are adapted to accommodate several persons. La Figura 29 and Figura 32 show for example a housing unit composed essentially of two modules (in particular, two central structures) which are arranged alongside and communicate with each other as well as being completed by a right-hand wall and a left-hand wall. This housing unit is suitable for two persons: two beds are in fact provided, each being movable through a respective access opening in the manners already described.

Figura 33 and Figura 34 show a variant of a housing unit for two persons in which a boxshaped communication module is arranged between two central structures so as to provide a further space in which persons may stay. In other words, the housing unit has a main central module, for example provided with a table and shelves for positioning objects, and two symmetrical side modules each provided with a respective bed.
Other combinations are obviously possible, with a greater number of modules and / or central structures which are suitably arranged. In other words, a housing unit  with the desired dimensions and features may be assembled in a modular manner as required: by providing a suitable number of parts shown in Figura 19, these parts may be assembled together so as to obtain the housing unit with the desired configuration and features. The greater the number of parts available, the greater is the number of configurations which may be obtained, with an obvious advantage when constructing the housing unit.

The housing unit fIGURA 1 is moreover configured to float on water. This is useful in the case where the housing unit 1 is flooded or slips or falls into water, for example during a flood or after slipping off a sea platform into the sea, or if the housing unit 1 has been installed on the bank of a river, a lake or the sea.

The floating capacity is useful also in the case of use as a rescue unit, for example for the passengers of a shipwrecked ship or for workers on a sea oil rig, for example in the event of a fire. In such cases the passengers or workers may take shelter inside the housing units which are then put out to sea and remain floating, so as to provide a survival facility for persons waiting for the rescue services. For example, each housing unit 1 may be provided with a hook at the top for allowing hooking up to a cable let down from a rescue helicopter, as shown in Figura 37.

The helicopter may thus raise and transport the housing units to a safe location.
In other words, the modular housing unit 1 in the floating condition is a survival cell for the user who is exposed to a danger condition due to the surrounding water environment, in particular the risk of drowning, hypothermia, attack by animals or not being found by the rescuers. The modular housing unit is a survival cell in the sense that it allows the user to remain in a protected environment while waiting for the rescue services.

In order to ensure that the housing unit floats for a long enough period without taking in water, at least the bottom region of the box-shaped structure is watertight in order to prevent the water from entering into the inner chamber. In other words, the bottom of the box-shaped structure forms a hull, i.e. acts in a manner similar to a hull, being watertight at least up to a floating line of the housing unit under full load.

The doors may also be hermetically closed in watertight manner so as to prevent the infiltration of water. In order to assist floating, rings may be arranged externally around the longitudinal side wall of the box-shaped structure. The rings are for example made of a material with a density much less than that of water or are inflatable members which are inflated with air or other gas when it is required to increase the Archimedes’ thrust and therefore the floating capacity of the housing unit on water.

In order to prevent the housing unit from overturning in the water, the housing unit is made so as to have a centre of gravity which is as low as possible. In particular, the housing unit is designed to have a centre of gravity in a location such that, when the housing unit is floating in the water, the centre of gravity is situated below the surface of the water. Consequently, the housing unit in the water has a stable equilibrium condition in the centred horizontal position which it assumes on the ground during the normal condition of use as a housing for the user.

Owing to the position of the centre of gravity, the housing unit returns spontaneously into this centred horizontal position after it has been made unstable by a wave or the wind. The cylindrical form of the box-shaped structure also favours that it maintains this centred horizontal position and returns into said position.
In particular, in order to obtain a centre of gravity in this position, the supporting base underneath the box-shaped structure has a density greater than the density of the water. The position and the overall weight of the supporting base are such as to determine a centre of gravity which, when the housing unit is floating in the water, is located below the surface of the water.
In particular, the support feet are heavy and for example made of solid metal or are hollow bodies which are filled with water.
As shown in the figures, the support feet are movable members which are displaceable between a first condition and a second condition.
In the first condition (shown for example in Figura 1, Figura 2, Figura 3, Figura 4, Figura 5, Figura 6, Figura 7, Figura 8, Figura 9, Figura 10, Figura 11), each movable member forms the supporting base and therefore acts as a support foot for the housing unit. This is the condition normally assumed when the housing unit is onthe ground during the condition of normal use as housing for the user.

In the second condition, each movable member extends downwards from the bottom of the box-shaped structure and forms a fin or fin keel which extends underneath the box-shaped structure. This is the condition which each movable member assumes when the housing unit is floating on water.
The purpose of the fin is to maintain the centred horizontal position of the housing unit, in the manner of the a fin of a sailing boat, and it therefore counteracts or prevents overturning of the housing unit under the action of the waves or the wind.
Moreover, the movement of the movable members towards the second condition displaces the centre of gravity downwards, helping to achieve said position in which the centre of gravity is located underneath the surface of the water.
In the embodiments shown in Figura 1 to Figura 28, the two movable members / support feet are arranged symmetrically and in the second condition they make contact with each other, forming a single fin. Systems may be provided for coupling together the two movable members in the second condition in order to ensure that the fin is stable. For example, these coupling systems could be of the magnetic type.
In variations of embodiment, shown for example in Figura 29, Figura 30, Figura 31, Figura 32 the two movable members are far from each other and each form a respective fin.

In the embodiments shown for example in Figures 1 to Figura 26, each movable member is pivoted to the box-shaped structure, in particular to the bottom of the box-shaped structure, along a longitudinal pivoting axis. Therefore, the movement of the movable member between the first condition and the second condition (and vice versa) is a rotation about said longitudinal pivoting axis. In particular, the first movable member and the second movable member are pivoted to the box-shaped structure along a same longitudinal pivoting axis such that in the second condition they are arranged against each other and a single fin is easily obtained. In a variation of embodiment, shown for example in Figura 27 and Figura 28, each movable member is connected to the box-shaped structure by means of at least one articulated arm. Therefore, the movement of the movable member between the first condition and the second condition (and vice versa) is an articulated movement by means of the arm.
The movement of the movable members from the first condition towards the second condition occurs spontaneously when the housing unit is in the water.
This is achieved owing to the weight of the movable members which have a density greater than that of the water. In fact, each movable member tends to move downwards owing to its weight, but, since it is constrained by the pivoting system or by the articulated arm, the sole movement which it is able to perform is a displacement towards the second condition.
Alternatively or in addition, a mechanical or electromechanical system may be provided for moving the movable members towards the second condition.
This mechanical or electromechanical system may be activated manually or automatically by means of a sensor which detects falling of the housing unit into the water.

In one embodiment, shown for example in Figura 22, Figura 23Figura 24Figura 25Figura 26, the housing unit comprises at least one floating element which is connected to the supporting base; in particular, a floating element is envisaged for each movable member. The floating element has a density less than that of the water and in particular is a hollow body and is watertight. The floating element is essentially a caisson with a floating function.
For example, each floating element extends longitudinally over a length equal to about the length of the longitudinal side wall of the box-shaped structure and the respective movable member.

The floating element is hinged with the respective movable member in particular to a top side of the latter, along a longitudinal hinge axis.
When the movable member is in the first condition where it acts as a support foot, the floating element is alongside the movable member and in some cases forms an extension of the supporting base (Figura 22).
When the housing unit is floating on water, the movable member tends to move downwards because of its weight, while the floating element is lighter than the water and tends to float. This results in a relative rotation about the longitudinal hinge axis (Figura 25 and Figura 26) which causes the floating element to move above the respective movable member, going to a position between the movable member and the box-shaped structure (Figura 23 and Figura 24).

The floating element therefore also allows the position of the fin to be stabilized. In fact, by being positioned between the bottom of the box-shaped structure and the movable member in the second condition, the floating element prevents the movable member from returning spontaneously into the first condition.
In order to maximize this stabilization effect, the floating element has a first surface which has a convex shape complementing the upper surface of the
movable member and moreover has a second surface which has a concave shape identical to said upper surface.
When the movable member is in the second condition, the first surface of the floating element is housed in contact with the upper surface of the movable member, while the second surface of the floating element makes contact with a bottom portion of the lateral longitudinal wall of the boxshaped structure.
In other words, the second surface creates a receiving seat for the bottom of the box-shaped structure, replacing the surface of the movable member which performs the same function in the first condition.
As shown in Figura 23 and Figura 24, the movable members and the floating elements form a single fin which cannot pivot with respect to the box-shaped structure because it is locked in position by the matching engagement between the parts.
As shown in Figura 33 and Figura 34, the floating element may in some cases be provided on only one of the movable members which form the fin.
The subject of the present disclosure has been described hitherto with reference to preferred embodiments thereof. It is to be understood that other embodiments relating to the same inventive idea may exist, all of these falling within the scope of protection of the claims which are illustrated hereinbelow.