Every time there is a disaster, designers roll out another set of designs for emergency shipping container housing, and every time, it is pointed out by the likes of Cameron Sinclair that perhaps a steel box is not the best thing to be living in. Not only that, it costs a lot to ship air, which is essentially what an empty container is full of.
That's why I like the Liini Transitional Shelter from Aalto University's Wood Project 2010 so much. They have designed a very clever housing unit of 180 square meters that is designed around the needs of a family, and can fit two of them into a single 20 foot shipping container.
The design also has a feature that we have seen on TreeHugger before, from bird houses to credenzas: the use of standard but very strong nylon ratchet straps as a method of putting all of the structural insulated panels into compression and holding the whole thing together with a minimum amount of material and without needing any tools to assemble. They even name it after the straps, Liina in Finnish.
The house is built out of a series of slices, each of which is light enough to lift by two people, and held together by vertical straps.
The students write:
Using Finnish materials, our task is to design and build a transitional refugee shelter to be deployed quickly and efficiently in cold climates around the world. Size and weight limitations are important factors in designing a transitional shelter to be carried in pieces by two men, assembled in one day by the inhabitants and for a family of five to live in for a maximum of five years. The result is an open source, innovative low-tech solution that also demonstrates our commitment to sustainable materials, furthering wood building design, and reaching out to help communities around the globe.
The design of the Wood Program shelter – or “Liina” – is based on panelized construction that is assembled using nylon straps (or “liina” in Finnish), such as those found in the transportation of cargo. The use of straps makes the shelter airtight and allows for easy and secure assembly without the use of power tools or electricity. Repeated connections and modular assembly also help in making the entire shelter easy to assemble in one day. The specially designed SIPs (or “structurally insulated panels”) are made of plywood with a Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumber) wood frame and filled with VITAL wood fiber insulation.
The roof of the shelter and adjoining covered terrace is covered in a textile for protection from the sun, rain and snow and can be replaced when the shelter is moved or re-purposed after the crisis. The entire package arrives flat-packed and all components are sized to fit into a standard shipping container.
In the video there are a lot more than two people assembling the house, but you get the point and see the result: a complete building with dimensions designed for people, built from insulated panels, complete with interior partitioning and storage and an outside porch. Not only that, they will have a shipping container left over. Very clever design from students of the Wood Program at Aalto University. More images at ArchDaily