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This Shelter Assembles in Just One Hour—and Could House Disaster Victims for Four Months

A Turkish design firm creates a compact home for victims of floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

On October 23, 2011, the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates shuddered together along the Zagros fold and thrust belt, 4.5 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. Sitting on that surface: the eastern Turkish city of Van, where the resulting 7.1 magnitude earthquake killed over 600 people and injured 4,100.


As the Turkish authorities rushed to recover the dead and treat the wounded, they faced another mounting humanitarian issue: The earthquake had left an estimated 241,000 Turks temporarily homeless. With overseas aid, the government turned to the solution—tents, nearly 54,000 of them.

But what if, the Turkish design firm Designnobis wondered, there was a better way to house the earthquake’s survivors—and the estimated 22 million displaced by natural disasters each year?

The result is “Tentative,” a compact and sturdy post-disaster shelter that is easy to transport and build.

Built of fiber, durable textiles, and an insulating material called perlite, the 86 square foot shelter is ideal for areas of the world with wild swings in temperature. (Hakan Gürsu, Designnobis’ founder, notes that eastern Turkey can have 104-degree temperature differences between its seasons.) Its roof is also specially built to collect water—an invaluable function for oft-underserved survivors of natural disasters.

Assembly takes just one hour, and one semi-truck trailer can transport 24 of the lightweight shelters, making them fairly easy to deploy to disaster areas. And once the shelters are set up, they can last about three to four months—though the design firm speculates they could house a family for a while longer.

Right now, the project is still in its prototype stage, but Designnobis estimates the shelters would each cost about $2,500 to manufacture. This is no inexpensive solution—by contrast, a standard tent used by the U.N.’s refugee agency costs just $380, and IKEA’s “Better Shelter” is about $1,000. But should the Turkish design firm find a manufacturing partner who can help them keep costs down, the “Tentative” shelter could become a comfortable, safe, and temporary home for those with nowhere else to go.

Via Co.Design

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