The disaster recovery shelter industry is embracing new and innovative technologies that give support agencies options to consider for their overall preparedness strategy. Additionally, a unique flat-pack shelter solution from Ikea looks to be something able to help solve the refugee housing problem after a natural calamity. Whatever the kind of natural disaster, these innovations sure help with the recovery process.
Let’s take a look at two new disaster shelter technologies that are designed to provide a better form of respite in the aftermath of the storm.
An Open Source, Lego-like Disaster Shelter Design
Driven by the fact that three years after the earthquake in Haiti many refugees still live in tents, Dutch designer and architect, Pieter Stoutjesdijk, developed ECOnnect, a modular disaster shelter that offers a more protective and stable environment, but it still easy to set up and configure. Stoutjesdijk leveraged computer-aided design techniques to develop a system of interlocking pieces that are used to build a shelter quickly in a puzzle-like fashion. Best of all, the shelter design is open source and easily distributed as a digital file.
The shelter’s construction materials are primarily CNC-milled panels which are agriculturally sourced and made waterproof using a nano-coating process. The innovative roof design serves multiple purposes. First, its double layering enhances ventilation throughout the shelter, while providing a solar power panel used to generate electricity. The roof’s shape and panel design also help to collect and purify rainwater which gets stored under the shelter.
Stoutjesdijk estimates that a ECOnnect shelter would cost around 10,000 to build, which isn’t currently cost effective in most disaster recovery scenarios. He hopes that his open source, digitally distributed design leads to a revolution in low-cost construction techniques which will ultimately lower the overall price.
Ikea Gets into the Disaster Shelter Business
Ikea, through its philanthropic foundation, hopes to revolutionize the disaster shelter industry by applying the flat-pack technology from its furniture design to the problem of refugee housing. Working in concert with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ikea plans on shipping these shelter units wherever a natural disaster occurs. UNHCR estimates over three million refugees currently live in tent shelters worldwide.
The Ikea shelters come in cardboard boxes like their furniture and take about four hours to fully construct without the need for any tools. With an approximate size of 188 square feet, these shelters house up to five people. The solid wall panels mean the expected lifespan for the shelter is around three years, compared to only six months for a tent.
Considering the current tragedy in the Philippines, it is obvious that these shelter innovations developed by Ikea and Pieter Stoutjesdijk can play an important role in helping the disaster recovery process. Hopefully they will soon be able to be used whenever and wherever calamities happen.