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Housing displaced people in an emergency is never easy, but designer Michel Antoun has an interesting take on providing shelter. His temporary housing unit is made from compressed wood panels and folds up into a cube for easy shipping. Once deployed at a disaster site one wall cleverly folds down, which in an instant both doubles the square footage of the shelter, and exposes solar cells to provide power.

It’s obviously still a design concept, but it’s a compelling one that could provide instant housing in response to an emergency, or disaster such as earthquake, tornado, or flooding.

(via dornob)

Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker, tinkerer and co-founder of a startup working on fixing the Internet of Things. He spends much of his time probing current trends in an attempt to determine which technologies are going to define our future.


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Comments

  1. Bart says:

    How does the fold out wall double the square footage of the cube? the floor in that portion is still at an angle so it isn’t very useful.

    1. Scott says:

      great spot for the bed?

    2. Cory says:

      Take the time to click through the pictures and you’ll see.

  2. chuck says:

    This is a neat idea but it’s a less than ideal emergency shelter. Unless this is originally used as a crate and stuffed full of supplies, it’s dead space in shipping. Flat packed or tent shelters are preferable.
    This kind of compressed wood is a terrible material that becomes garbage after exposure to rain and sunlight. Anything shipped into a disaster area needs to deliver the most usability and reusability as possible. After a good rainy season in the tropics this would become a pulpy mess ready for the landfill. The binders and glue used to create these chipboard panels make them useless even for firewood.
    The floor plan is silly. Couches, indoor plumbing, toilets, two separate sleeping areas and actual bed frames are great for a tiny house on the lake but this is emergency shelter- keep the floor plan open and adaptable. What kind of infrastructure will you need to have the plumbing be operational? Even if they’re composting toilets and tank system sinks they will need to be emptied, water will need to be provided and grey water must be dealt with. In an emergency housing situation, centrally located, closely monitored water supplies and lavatories are essential to public health.
    This project seems well intentioned and I don’t want to seem like I’m attacking the designer, but these things need to be thought out. I’d hate to see something like this get funding that could otherwise actually go to help people.

    1. Jack M says:

      Honestly, I think you are being way too hard on this idea. The fact is that emergency shelter, whether delivered to Haiti or to New Orleans, unfortunately are often required to serve people for months or even years before the local government is able to find them permanent housing. So we had people basically freezing inside tents in winter in Pakistan long after the earthquake hit.

      Therefore, a solution which provides semi-permanent housing is actually a very good idea, but only if the people setting up a camp also have a plan in place to provide the services you mention. What would that take? Basically a lot of exterior grade PVC pipe and some some sort of infrastructure at the end of each string of housing module.

      But you are completely on target about the use of compressed wood panels is just about the worst possible product for exterior use. After a week, a module made of this would be useless. Another big concern I would have is whether the roof leaks where the fold out portion meets the rest!

      1. Dax says:

        The solar panels also push the cost up tremendously. With 10 square meters of panel, even at $3 per watt, you’re looking at $5000 minimum of extra cost per crate. That’s not cost effective in the kind of use these things are intended for, because the payback period is 15-25 years whereas these things are meant to be used for 15-25 months.

        It would be far better to just pack in a small generator and $4500 worth of fuel for it. It would be instantly available, on demand, at night, and you’d be able to use it for various purposes like stoves and cheap petrol lamps etc. instead of expensive and failure prone batteries and electronic devices.

  3. JayStone says:

    The solar panel array is restriced to the output of the panel receiving the least amount of sunlight. That is why dome shaped solar panel arrays are inefficient.
    Why not units that pull out like drawers, packed with necessary supplies.
    One each designed for toilets, showers, medical, communications, maintenance etc.

    1. Dax says:

      That depends on how you wire them up. If they’re all 12 volt panels, you can keep them in parallel and avoid the problem.

  4. rallen says:

    There’s actually already a shelter that’s cheap, open, serves multiple duties, and can provide excellent extended shelter with very little modification: shipping containers. Many people are already using them as “hardened” vacation cottages, modular housing units, or storage. I knew one guy who had his glass business entirely housed within two containers, because they could be trucked to any location in the state (Texas) for $600. When tornadoes hit Dallas, his whole shop, packed with generators and supplies, was there within days.

    1. Excellent point, and he’s not the only one, http://www.containercity.com/about.

  5. Alan Dove says:

    Architects always love to design these sorts of things, but nobody uses them. Tents are cheap, light, air-freightable in huge numbers, and pitchable by anyone, anywhere, with no skill. Also, refugee camps are supposed to be temporary, and tents encourage people to move out. If disaster shelters are an upgrade from what people lived in before, the camp will immediately become permanent. The sad truth is that for much of the world’s population, a shelter like this (especially with built-in electricity) would indeed be such an upgrade.

  6. Steve says:

    a much much better option was featured a while back on “i didnt know that”

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