Basement Optimization Tent

Basement Tent - For Better Life

Duration  6 weeks   Categories  Innovation design, Social design, Interaction design.

Tool  Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Maya

Role (individual project)  Concept creation, UX design, Research, Interview, Graphic design, Building the installation.



Chinese urban population density has increased in recent years. People’s living space has been constantly compressed and all sorts of problems have come along. Everyone desires to have their own living space. According to the survey, living space status in Beijing can be categorized into five types: 1. People have their own house and live with family; 2. People rent and live in apartment units; 3. People share apartment units with other people; 4. People rent bunk beds; 5. People rent and live in the basements. In these living spaces, people’s comfort level is influenced by many factors. External facts are like noise, space size, humidity, odor, light, etc. Internal facts are causes from themselves like wages, life stress, work intensity, and etc. All these factors form people’s living space in this city.


Taking Beijing as an example, I analyzed the factors related to different types of living space, the influencing factors and the living comforts. The design is based on the analysis of the four spatial types of each typical space.


Overview (click)

Analysis of basic living space situation

Analysis of Living Types and Density

There are 9% people living in basements. (by 2016)

I used decibel meter and light machine to test different living space.

Space Scale and Sound Analysis



Design 1 | Micro Living Space

I started with the Micro living space design to draw more attention of the public to the different living conditions, especially some severe living space like the basements. The device I used called Breathing Space can be set on the user’s head. By employing a built-in controller and the computer, I successfully simulated and re-establish the environment in the aspects of humidity, sound, smell, oxygen content, etc. In addition, I added other social factors to it to reflect the spatial information, such as income status and work pressure, which can also indicate whether the space is comfortable or not. Breathing Space will adjust its size just like breathing based on the data collect from the factors. If the user’s pressure is low in the simulated space, the bubble will inflate to a proper size to make people feel comfortable, or vice versa.


Design 2 | Optimization Tent

In this research, I specifically focused on the living space in basement. The occupants generally fall into the low-income group or the immigrants from the farmland working in the service industry in big cities. They encounter many living difficulties, such as loud noise, low security, dampness, and no privacy. I manage to design a tent to help them maximally avoid the living problems. This was how the basement tent idea came out.

According to my research, the basement space is mostly shared space. So I choose to design a tent which can stretch out freely and draw back easily. When people use the tents in the basement, they can block the noise, eliminate weird smell, reduce humidity and increase brightness. All the problems can be solved without losing any privacy.

Design 1 Micro Living Space



By simulating the feelings of people in different environments through the computer program that adjusts the parameters of the device, I provided the options for people to adjust their own, smell, space, humidity and other items. The device can simulate the motion of breathing, smoothly or rapidly based on the environments. With breathing—this intuitive motion, everyone can easily capture the feelings of being at the difference spaces.

Arouse empathy of people who are not living in the basement, and let more people to care about the basement topic.


Web Control

Audience can adjust parameters on web to feel basement's environment.

Here are the diagrams when the four participants adjusted computer. They can feel the device shrink and amplify, breathing like a living creature. In some uncomfortable living environments, the breathing motion became rapid.


Design 2 - Optimization Tent

Design Alternatives

Based on my user research data, I reviewed my ideas based on a few key criteria including:

  • Affordable: whether the idea can be purchased and use it in long time with low price

  • Effectiveness: whether the solution can effectively bring the community together and help reduce basement people's living condition

  • Convenience: whether basement people can use the tent when and where they need

I then came up with low-fidelity prototypes for my concept.

Tent Design