Relief Shelter fold-upAn Insatiable Desire To Help Those In Need
Watching the impact of natural disasters, we wanted to help.
Design Revolution Ltd was passionate about creating a temporary shelter that would serve to protect those affected from the elements in the very short term as they rebuild their communities.
Without consulting those in need we dove into creating solutions. The first idea was to create a small shelter out of plastic that was unfolded like “inverted origami”.
- Founding Principles (Origami as a construction method Shelter 1.0):
- Provide a safe temporary shelter while people rebuild their lives affected by natural disaster
- Light weight easily transportable
- Erected in very short order, minutes or hours
- Fabricated from the Byproducts of the Alberta Oil sands
- Simple local fabrication that can empower less fortunate through employment
A Shift in Priorities
Unfortunately the very first prototype never had a chance to mature… Friends and colleagues became passionately supportive of the goal and came on board, each with their vision for what was needed… very quickly the simplicity of the idea was lost, but we moved to a much greater aspiration… At this point we had still not connected with the intended customer…
As a team we threw everything we felt a “Canadian Shelter” would require. We decided to design a shelter with a long life, one that is fully self-contained… The question now was, how far can we push the idea?
- Original Founding Principles were amended to reflect the X-Prize criteria(shelter 2.0):
- Provide a safe shelter that could last for 10 years
- Vandal proof
- UV proof
- Element for the shelter to enable either installation of insulation in the walls or material to create thermal mass and be structurally capable of supporting the loads
- Constructed out of byproducts from the oil sands
- Create local employment in the production of the elements
- Create a foundation system that can be leveled with simple embedded technology
- Capture/filter/purify water – take gray water from organic waste and purify it
- Harvest energy from the wind and sun for use in the facility
- Provide waste receptacle and sink to access waste from reservoir
- Manage organic waste to produce water and compost for food security
- Be constructed without the use of tools
- Provide a safe shelter that could last for 10 years
Applied Research and Racing the Clock
Almost virally the idea expanded, yet we still had no contact with those who would benefit from the product.
Amended Principles were extended to push the limits of technology and manufacturing (shelter 3.0):
- Structurally stable for high wind and rain loads
- Locking connections for assembly
- High level testing accepted internationally
- Must be financially competitive with the tents currently supplied
- Use methane from organic waste for cooking and heat
We designed systems for implementing technology. We explored the ability of linking units. We looked at the expanded functional use… Through all of this we never changed the form of the shelter from the very early 8′ X 12′ Origami Shelter.
Understanding What We Had Created
We had created something that was a far cry from the initial idea of a “shelter”… The Team had, without wanting to, actually moved from a providing a small shelter to a building a small dwelling.
This has much different connotations and a much broader impact… to everyone… When we leave the realm of shelter and become a dwelling complications arise:
This creates significant complexities that we never wanted to battle but we were quickly meeting head on… And in addition all of this was getting very expensive and the investors were getting anxious to have a return on investment… Still no contact with potential customers.
Shelter 3.0 had reached maturity. It was a strong idea for serving less fortunate people in need.
Moving From Shelter To Community
Creating pods from single units, creating streets from co-joined pods, creating districts from streets and centers at the ends of streets that provide the amenities we see as valuable for a safe and healthy community…
We carefully designed and placed village squares, centers of health and
commerce all with a single unit… Like ice crystallizing and diverging from a
center the communities grew… We were determined to explore how this element could be employed to the nth degree. We were about to look into developing the panels for infill in multi-story units that would increase the density and push the idea into a much greater purpose…
A Pause For Reflection
With a prototype being manufactured we decided to host an information gathering session. We invited business men, technology specialists, and politicians with international connectivity, scholars and a variety of interested other people to gain insight, advice, and interest in investment. Very important session that should have taken place many months earlier, the questions were insightful and some were impossible to answer. What resonated most were the following observations
- Is this a disaster relief shelter or a refugee shelter?
- Far too elaborate for disaster relief
- Too heavy, expensive and complex for a relief situation
- For a refugee situation, far too permanent, hosts of these people do not want a permanent settlement and all of the problems that come with permanence.
- Who is the customer?
- Do we deal directly with the end user?
- Is the customer an NGO?
- Is this something that can be used for housing with Canadian Aboriginals?
- In my mind is begged the question… why are we not helping out in our own communities first?
- Why are other cultures going to accept this if our own was unwilling to accept this modest solution?
- What about housing the homeless?
- Is the size right for the need?
Design Revolution Ltd Is About To Embark On Unraveling These Crucial Insights:
Design Revolution Ltd wants to thank Dr. Peter Silverstone and Azera Health and Housing for their support during this research. Dr. Silverstone is moving the Shelter forward and we wish him great success. At Design Revolution we have chosen a different rout…
At Design Revolution Ltd. we want to address the questions raised in the Charrette in the spring of 2016.
- Why can’t we work in our own communities to find solutions within a culture that is so important to us?
- With all the projects completed for the First Nations, what has gone wrong and is there a solution?
- What is appropriate for housing the homeless with shelters in urban settings?