Architects Design Temporary Shelters to Deal with Crises

temporary shelters climate change refugeesIn 2015, climate change and the migrant crisis in several countries made the need for shelter more acute. It became necessary to provide homes for people in less time while minimizing environmental effects and costs.

Architects and planners are increasingly turning to shelters that can be built quickly, linked together, disassembled, and relocated. These types of designs make it easier to deal with a refugee crisis and the effects of climate change.

Suricatta, a Spanish architecture firm, introduced Shelter Units for Rapid Installation (SURI) in 2015 to help victims of earthquakes. These super-portable trailers have been used in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East to help displaced people. SURIs are more advanced than other modern homes and have water filtration systems. The walls can be filled with sand to weigh them down. They are breathable and thermally insulated to maintain a comfortable temperature. After a life cycle of 10 years, SURIs can be recycled, reused, or biodegraded.

ALPOD apartment pods are changing the concept of what a structure is and how people should live. The ALPOD is a stand-alone structure with a kitchen, living area, and bathroom. Units can be stacked to create an apartment building or set up individually. Production is scheduled to begin this year. An ALPOD will be able to be manufactured in four days and set up in less than a day.

ETH Zurich and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab unveiled a new form of 3D printing at the Chicago Architecture Biennial in October. The process is called rock printing. A robotic arm loops and stacks thin string in layers. Buckets of rocks are poured between the layers to form a massive column that supports itself without scaffolding or beams. It is as durable as a traditional building but costs less and wastes less material than typical construction methods. Rock printing is intended to be used to create temporary architecture.

As climate change and conflicts displace more people, the need for temporary architecture is expected to continue. A permanent building may be seen as a liability in those circumstances, while a temporary structure can be seen as advantageous.