Winter shelter Steam Canoe made with GRIP Metal

Imagine, you are just walking around, minding your own business, when you are suddenly hit by a snowstorm. Then you would probably wish that you had a canoe with you. People throughout history and all different kinds of cultures have used a flipped over vessel as roofing device. Students from OCAD University in Toronto used the canoe as inspiration for a shelter for the annual Toronto-based Winter Stations Design Competition. The shelter, called Steam Canoe, is made out of wood and GRIP Metal.

The shelter looks indeed like half of a canoe sticking out of the ground. On the roof, there are solar tubes placed and in the back a water tank in which people can place snow. This water tank is heated by the solar tubes and, because of the cold surroundings, gives off steam. Hence the name Steam Canoe.

However, what is even more interesting about this shelter is that it is build without the use of glue, only from wood and a material called GRIP Metal. The GRIP Metal material is trademarked, thin gauge sheet metal with thousands of mechanically extruded hooks, which allow mechanical bonding to nearly any other material. It works as a kind of metal Velcro and comes in two variations, one sided and two sided.

The panels used for the Steam Canoe consist of five layers. They started with a layer of veneer, on top of which they placed a sheet of dubbelsided GRIP Metal. On top of that came a central core of lumber, then another layer of GRIP Metal and finally another layer of veneer.

This stack was then put through a rolling machine to press the layers together. The hooks of the GRIP metal sheet work like tiny nails, making it a very effective binding method. However, it is still possible to separate the layers at a later point to reuse or recycle them, something that is harder to do with binding agents such as glue. It is, therefore, also an environmentally friendly method.

Normally, to bend wood, you can use methods like steambending. However, by feeding the panels through the rolling machine and lifting them up as they come out, the metal sheets bend, taking the wood with them. This creates curved panels, which gives the material many possibilities for future projects.

Photos: Khristel Stecher (via