Adaptable Construction Systems for Shelter in Emergency Situation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperResearch

Abstract

1 General issue

The latest natural disasters have proven that catastrophes, predictable or unpredictable, and the resulting emergency situations may occur all over the world, in developing as well as in developed countries. Unfortunately, the international aid community still seems insufficiently prepared for these incidents. Relief agencies have to manage the unpredictability of catastrophes and the great amount of varying parameters, which, moreover, can change over time [Ashmore 2004]. According to the shelter project Report on the transitional settlement sector [Ashmore et al. 2003] response remains highly variable in terms of effectiveness. Delayed response, shelter systems that are poorly adapted to the local situation, the limited or inexistent potential for adaptation during later phases of assistance [Manfield 2001] and the gap between relief and reconstruction confirm the lack of sustainable and integrated shelter intervention.

2 Global approach for shelter intervention

The development of a universally applicable approach for shelter interventions in emergency situations aims to deal with these different issues and should guarantee a quick and efficient shelter intervention after natural or conflict-based disasters [Hendrickx and Vanwalleghem 2004]. The approach is based on the design strategy proposed by professor Hendrickx and architect Vanwalleghem. This strategy encloses two important starting-points: the use of a generating form and dimensioning system and the set up of theoretical design catalogues. The first design tool proposes a set of standardisation rules, which will define the shape and the dimensions of the basic elements. From here on one will use the term generating system. This generating system encloses general rules regulating different construction systems. While ensuring full compatibility of form and dimensions between all the simple basic elements, an infinite variety of building systems can be generated using the proposed system.
The global approach for shelter intervention in emergency situations consists of three complementary ideas, namely the development of adaptable and polyvalent shelter systems, the drawn up of practical design catalogues and finally the set up of national and international relief supplies.
The paper concentrates on the design of an adaptable and polyvalent shelter system that offers the opportunity to support different shelter strategies, to be easily adapted to the local factors (climate, geography, demography and habits of the inhabitants) and to be upgraded from an emergency shelter to a medium or long term habitat. In addition to the construction of shelters, the shelter system can also be used for temporary reconstruction and extension of local houses.

3 The adaptable shelter system

The development of adaptable and polyvalent shelter systems is based on the design of polyvalent and adaptable basic elements and their capacity to be combined. All elements are designed using the generating system that regulates the dimensions and the form of each element but also the combination rules between the elements. It thus guarantees the compatibility and adaptability of all elements.
The adaptable shelter system consists of a minimum amount of (different) basic elements that can be combined according to predefined combination rules to create a variety of constructions. As a result of the adaptability and their polyvalent design the basic elements can be reused and (re)combined, eventually with the addition of local materials, to become more permanent constructions.
Besides stiff linear basic elements the shelter system consists of flexible lightweight materials like textiles and membranes. Since these materials present good characteristics regarding transport, ease of construction and set up time they are appropriate for temporary shelters.
The shelter system is designed to easily evolve from one type of shelter to another. Immediately after a catastrophe has occurred, the relief agencies can provide the victims with basic temporary shelters, e.g. basic A-tents. Afterwards, these basic shelters can be adapted to become a ridge tent or even a frame tent. Furthermore, a 2-person-shelter can easily evolve to a family shelter of 4 or 8 persons and every shelter can be adapted to the climate by adding insulation or shading or by adapting the ventilation in the shelter.

4 Conclusion

The design of polyvalent and adaptable constructions for shelter in emergency situations should thus offers quick and adequate shelter interventions in every, unique circumstance. The elements of the building system can be combined and interchanged to build a variety of shelters with various forms and sizes and varying characteristics regarding climate, structure and geography. Moreover, a cross over from aid to development may finally be possible and sustainable shelter interventions may become reality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdaptables 2006 - Proceedings of the joint CIB, Tensinet, IASS International Conference on Adaptability in Design and Construction
EditorsF. Scheublin, A. Pronk, A. Borgard, R. Houtman
PublisherEindhoven University of Technology
Pages63-67
Number of pages5
Volume2
ISBN (Print)90-72152-03-4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2006
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Publication series

Name
Number4

Conference

ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet
Country/TerritorySweden
CityStockholm
Period21/09/0925/09/09

Bibliographical note

F. Scheublin, A. Pronk, A. Borgard, R. Houtman

Keywords

  • Conflict-based and natural disasters
  • relief
  • shelter intervention
  • adaptable and polyvalent construction system

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