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Gimme Shelter

In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath the FEMA trailer became a symbol of incompetence. They were unwieldy, expensive, and toxic. These "Exo" emergency...

In Hurricane Katrina's aftermath the FEMA trailer became a symbol of incompetence. They were unwieldy, expensive, and toxic. These "Exo" emergency housing units were designed to be everything the FEMA trailers were not: easy to move, low-maintenance, reusable, and cheap. They're the brainchild of Michael McDaniel, a Mississippi native and senior designer at frog design.Each unit can be set up in two minutes by a team of four people with no tools, they can be airlifted or stacked on a flatbed truck, and they're made with durability and shelf life in mind (storing the mechanical components separately, for example, makes maintenance a breeze). The target cost is $5,000 per unit, about $60,000 cheaper than a FEMA trailer.Like so many great-and great-looking-projects you find on the internet, this remains in concept/prototype purgatory for now. Michael did build one unit in his backyard (below) and has shopped the idea around, but it's a one-man show at this point and his funds are limited.You can learn more about the project here. We wish him luck in bringing this design to fruition. And if nothing else, the project is a nice reminder that better ways of doing things are out there, and that finding them often begins with thinking about the problem at hand.


Some of the particulars.

The prototype "Exo" shelter, in designer Michael McDaniel's backyard.

The advantages of Michael's hypothetical system are pretty dramatic.