Forget everything you know about how to build pillow forts!
Matt Richtel of The New York Times consulted with experts - architects and engineers - to discover the secret of building legendary pillow forts that your kids will talk about in awe and reverence to their own children:
“The first thing you do is test the building materials,” instructed Michael Lepech, 32. He’s an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, an expert in bendable concrete, a winner of sand castle contests and someone who does not build his pillow forts just any which way.
He makes them with his nephews, William, 8, and Andrew, 5, first going around the house gathering materials, separating heavy from light. That way, he said, they can learn about and follow the most basic design principle: heavy stuff on the bottom, the lightest on the top.
“We also get to talk about tension and compression,” he said, though he avoids technical terms. “We talk about pushing and pulling.”
His big innovation is using blankets to wrap two large cushions so that they create a large wall panel that can stand on its edge. In fact, he creates several such panels. Then he uses another blanket or sheet to attach adjoining panels, in effect connecting the walls of the fort.
Professor Lepech impressed his nephews with a tent that reached eight feet high, tall enough for them to stand a toy basketball hoop inside.