Australian company Humanihut has developed emergency shelter units that look to provide a more durable form of housing to refugees or people affected by disasters, with built in bathroom facilities and electricity. Each unit can be set up in just a few minutes and is designed to last up to 20 years.
In the immediate aftermath of a disaster or the outbreak of conflict, finding a roof to put over of the heads of people who have been displaced becomes a top priority. One of the standard responses is to set up makeshift housing using tents. While this provides shelter, it has its limitations with regards to long-term use. Tents need to be replaced every six to eight months, eating into aid budgets. Living in tents also means people lack a regular, personal source of electricity and often have to share toilet and showering facilities in the camps. As 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale director, Alejandro Aravena put it during a lecture at the University of East London in 2015, "The problem with a tent is that when you use it you throw it away, so it's money that melts."
Late last year, South Australia-based company Humanihut, launched a series of emergency relief pop-up shelters that are specifically designed to last and also provide a certain level of comfort and autonomy to occupants. Humanihut units can bet set up in five minutes and are fortified by a steel roof and walls. Each is equipped with toilet and shower facilities, heating, water purification systems, basic furniture and sewage disposal. The roof is decked with solar panels that provide a renewable source of electricity to occupants and insulated walls keep the temperature inside moderate.
The design is the result of three years of research into the area of emergency shelter. One of the key aims was to help curb the spread of disease in camps:
“By providing clean water and shelter, the Humanihut helps prevent health problems such as malaria and water-borne diseases that kill thousands of refugees every year,” Humanihut creator, Neale Sutton, said in a press release.
Humanihuts can last up to 20 years, which could significantly reduce emergency housing costs by an estimated 70 million USD a year in camps with more than 50,000 people. The elevated level of emergency living conditions these units afford could ease the situation somewhat for displaced people while more permanent housing options are sought and, in some cases, built. "If you [have to] provide something very, very quickly, then the chances of making a mistake are higher, so you need some help to buy time," Alejandro Aravena said in the aforementioned speech. "If the temporary solution is of better quality you may buy that required time."
Humanihut began manufacturing the units early this year. To learn more about the initiative, check out the video below or head to their website.