Gimme Shelter: Designing for Disaster


So many architects have tried to design transportable housing for emergencies; not many work. Wired covers a few of them: "Shipping costs are prohibitive -- it can sometimes cost twice as much to ship a design as it does to build it," says Architecture for Humanity's Kate Stohr. "Designs that are scalable, built using local materials or can also be used as core housing -- as a hub for basic services like sanitation, communication, supplies -- that basic dose of shelter, are key."

Kate also notes that housing units are not the only thing that are needed; "You can’t design for disaster after the fact," notes Kate. "Unless it's strategically thought about in advance of disaster, these ideas don't work." Often, what’s needed most is a central station where basic necessities -- water, food, medical supplies and information -- can be doled out.


Kate notes that "For emergency shelter in the first few days after a disaster, the tent is a proven solution;" Patrick Wharram's Lightweight Emergency Shelter is a mini building that's easy to transport and can be erected immediately. Wharram’s design is shipped in one piece -- an aluminum frame sewn into a piece of recycled polyester fabric allows for mass-production as well as an easy pop-up setup, reducing the possibility of misplacing pieces.


"The SHRIMP ("sustainable housing for refugees via mass production") is a boxy shelter meant to accommodate up to four people. It folds into a quarter of its original size for efficient shipping. Seen here as a scale model, the SHRIMP design significantly reduces the amount of space required to transport the shelter (think Ikea), allowing them to be dispatched in large quantities: four units can fit in one container. "

See them all at ::Wired