A bit of history

The idea of using the CLT panels for building furniture acting as a shelter during earthquakes born in 2013 from a thought of Marco Fellin, research fellow in CNR-IVALSA institute.

There was the need for a new sturdy table for the microscope lab. We had several CLT panels laying around due to the tests we used to perform on that material. The CLT buildings, wood panels and metal hardware were well consolidated, and Marco built the microscope table by using those CLT panels. It should be mentioned that other persons used CLT panels for building furniture prior to Marco.

Once the table was assembled and ready for hosting the mic, Marco thought that table was so sturdy it could easily resist a building collapse, and since then, the lifeshell was born. The idea was targeted to address the many schools and private houses in Italy where the amount of time, funds, logistics, bureaucracy needed for a full building earthquake-proof reinforcement is too high to be shortly realizable. By using this system we have a practical economical solution which can be realized in a few days, instead of the years needed for the engineering building reinforcement.

While defining the concept, the initial idea was enriched by other important contributions: closing 5 sides out of 6 possible (Prof. Ing. Ario Ceccotti), applying inner handles for avoiding “being shaken” by the earthquake, structural calculations and others. In 2013-2017 an informal working group evaluated the possibilities for releasing the idea: publications, patents, creative commons.

The research in the patent database revealed several anti-seismic furnitures, non built using CLT. None of these technology was readily available in the marked, in those days.

Marco opted for avoiding the patent on a life-saving technology, and the Creative commons label was chosen. This release allows anyone to make its own furniture, and allows enterprises to build, modify and sell it, without paying any royalty. This public domain release prevents any future patent process, and makes lifeshell a gift for mankind.

The name lifeshell aka “Life in Shell” depicts an alive human being protected by wood during an earthquake. Its lettering contain also the inventor’s name.

The lifeshell idea has been developed with independent funds.

L’idea dell’utilizzo di mobili in X-LAM come rifugio antisismico è nata nel 2013, dall'allora ricercatore dottorando presso il CNR-IVALSA Marco Fellin.

C'era la necessità di costruire un nuovo tavolo molto robusto e stabile per sostenere un microscopio da laboratorio. I pannelli X-Lam erano già tecnologia consolidata, così come i sistemi di connessione dei pannelli, cosicché Marco decise di costruire il tavolo in X-Lam. Altre persone in precedenza avevano realizzato mobili in X-Lam, sia all'esterno che all’interno di CNR-IVALSA.

Una volta completato il tavolo, a Marco si accese la classica lampadina: perché non utilizzare questo sistema costruttivo non solo per gli edifici in legno, ma anche per mobili? Si andrebbe incontro all'esigenza di avere rapidamente e a basso costo un sistema capace di salvare vite umane, in attesa di riqualificare il patrimonio edilizio che ancora non è a norma antisismica.

Nel corso della definizione dell'idea iniziale, si sono poi aggiunti altri importanti contributi, come l’idea di avere cinque lati chiusi su sei per i tavoli da ufficio (Prof. Ing. Ario Ceccotti), dotare l’interno dei mobili di maniglie o ulteriore chiusura sul sesto lato (Martino Negri, PhD), e il contributo dell’Ing. Andrea Polastri.

Tra il 2013 e il 2017 sono state valutate le possibilità per il progetto: il brevetto, la pubblicazione in riviste scientifiche, il rilascio come pubblico dominio.

L'ufficio brevetti CNR riscontrò la presenza di altri brevetti sui mobili antisismici, realizzati con tecnologie e materiali differenti. Si pensò allora che per favorire la diffusione di una tecnologia potenzialmente salvavita, il modo migliore fosse quello di donarlo all'umanità, rilasciando il materiale a pubblico dominio. Questa pubblicazione impedisce futuri brevetti e consente a tutti di realizzare questi mobili.

Il nome lifeshell indica una vita protetta da un guscio, life in shell, ed è anche un riferimento all'inventore, Fellin Shell.

L'idea nasce in maniera indipendente rispetto alle linee di ricerca del CNR-IVALSA, ed è stata descritta e pubblicata in questo sito con fondi privati.


American earthquake guidelines (last visited on October 2019)

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Ki Young Koo, Sung Gook Cho, Jintao Cui, Dookie Kim, 2010. Seismic response prediction for cabinets of nuclear power plants by using impact hammer test. Nuclear Engineering and Design 240 2500–2511.

Lifeshell project main website: (last visited on October 2019)

Qiang Liu, Xuejing Ruan, Pilong Shi, 2008. Selection of emergency shelter sites for seismic disasters in mountainous regions: Lessons from the 2008 Wenchuan Ms 8.0 Earthquake, China. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 40 926–934.

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National Disaster Education Coalition earthquake guidelines (last visited on October 2019)

Patricia J. Owens, Anthony Forgione, Susan Briggs, 2005. Challenges of International Disaster Relief: Use of a Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter and Surgical Hospital, Disaster Manage Response 3:11-6.

Red Cross earthquake guidelines: (last visited on October 2019)

S. Russo, 2012. Experimental and finite element analysis of a very large pultruded FRP structure subjected to free vibration. Composite Structures 94 1097–1105