Dermatologist’s sun hammock

South Africa has some of the most idyllic beaches in the world which attract both domestic and international tourists throughout the year. The beach infrastructure however is largely focused on entertainment such as restaurants. Beach umbrellas and other sun protection measures are privately owned and in some cases rented on demand. This is surprising, as according to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), South Africa has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia.

The Skin Cancer foundation provides further indicators on the dangers of spending prolonged periods in the sun. For example, they note that Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) is a documented human carcinogen, and that "each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon". From a cosmetic perspective, a staggering ninety-percent of skin ageing can be attributed to the sun. Although these statistics provide fair warning, the beauty and relaxed quality of a beach environment can prove too alluring.

It is true that awareness campaigns, guidelines on dangerous UV Indexes and sun creams have, to some degree, reduced instances of skin damage. But what is surprising, is that the millennia old umbrella design continues to be used, the term of which is derived from the Latin root umbra meaning shade. Consider that if shade is the required attribute, from an industrial design perspective, the traditional umbrella design is unable to shield the user from those sun rays reflected off beach sand or even just post-midday sun.

Good design aims to resolve such functional problems, but also looks to social dynamics and repositioning environment constraints as opportunities. The SUN TUBE concept aims to do this by embracing beach culture, and by making use of a plentiful resource: beach sand. From a social perspective, it works within the awareness campaigns that advocate avoiding midday sun or high sun activities, and taps into the culture of afternoon social gatherings, for example sundowners.

The image at the top of this page illustrates the product in-use, and the image below, the product in a stored state. The in-use hammock state can fold away and encloses itself into the stored form which measures only 10cm in diameter and 1,5m in length. This compact format allows the product to be stored in a variety of orientations, and perhaps more importantly, it can be transported in an assortment of modes, from an auto-mobile to a motorbike, from a crowded minibus taxi to even a skateboard.

When in-use, the tubular housing positions various metal rods to hold the shaded hammock form under tension. This shape is nestled on beach sand which when displaced, naturally contours to support the user's lower back. From a shading perspective, the hammock shields most of the user from reflected rays, and the extend flap provides additional shading. Its symmetrical design caters for various beach/sun orientations, and a second flap can be added for additional privacy. To cater for individuals who visit the beach alone, a simple lock module is included in the frame. This can store car-keys and cellphones when a stroll or swim is desired.