When a natural disaster strikes, two of the most pressing needs for the survivors are drinking water and shelter, and a unique project from the New York Institute of Technology's School of Architecture and Design could provide the solution to the second of those by using the packaging from the first.
By providing humanitarian relief in the form of sending shipping pallets full of bottled drinking water to survivors of natural disasters, aid organizations could also provide disaster victims with the materials to build temporary housing units at the same time, if this prototype disaster shelter design gets some traction.
The concept, called SodaBIB (BIB stands for Bottle Interface Bracket), is not only a way to reduce plastic waste and encourage upcycling and participatory architecture, but could also make some relief efforts much more effective.
"Two things typically show up at relief sites:  Water bottles on  shipping pallets. The system takes allows post-consumer plastic bottles to become ventilated, day-lit, low-maintenance shelter using minimal tools and labor. The HOME₂O shipping pallet de-laminates into linear brackets that hold crushed, PET water bottles as roof tiles. The system arrays and interlocks layers of bottles to create a breathable, weather-resistant membrane." - HOME₂O
At the heart of the system is the innovative form of the pallet, which is designed to take advantage of the shape and function of standard PET water bottles by providing attachment points for the bottles and allowing them to be secured by their own screw-top lids. Once a HOME₂O pallet is empty, it can be disassembled and converted to a roof panel that is light enough for a single person to install, and that provides not just passive cooling and respite from rains, but also lets in light and fresh air.
The team behind the HOME₂O disaster shelter prototype is currently seeking funding in order to construct a full-scale version, so that it can be tested and improved for optimal functionality, and to show proof-of-concept for pallet manufacturers and relief organizations for possible implementation in the field.
The team's Kickstarter campaign just passed its initial crowdfunding goal of $4000, and it still has 36 hours to go, so if you can get behind this worthy project, go ahead and kick in a few bucks to help transform the future of disaster relief.