Structural Behaviour of an Adaptive Construction System for Shelter Interventions after Natural Disasters

Caroline Henrotay, Niels De Temmerman, Marijke Mollaert, Wim Debacker, Anne Paduart, Hendrik Hendrickx

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


Since catastrophies and their consequences are mainly unpredictable assistance in emergency situations, especially shelter intervention, is extremely complex. Every situation is characterized by specific preconditions and needs appropriate solutions that take into account climatologic, demographic, socioeconomic and cultural parameters. Relief workers have to manage quick interventions and a great amount of unknown parameters. Further more relief action carries on through different stages: emergency, care and maintenance and durable solution and local parameters may change over time (days, months or years). As a result adaptive solutions are required.

Research has indicated that the current international relief actions are deficient partly due to inappropriate infrastructure. Quick and efficient provision of emergency shelter is still not guaranteed. The current shelter systems are poorly adapted to the local situation and their potential for adaptation or expansion during later phases of assistance is limited or inexistent. In addition less attention is paid to reuse of shelter material within later reconstruction phases of humanitarian assistance. These observations contrast sharply with international recommendations and guidelines.

An innovative approach for shelter intervention in emergency situations has been developed. The approach encloses the design of adaptable and compatible construction systems and considers the ecologic impact as well as the socioeconomic implications of relief interventions and long-term rehabilitation after natural disasters. The design of adaptable construction systems based on the 4Dimensional Design Strategy enables quick and efficient shelter interventions and supports the process from aid to development. The construction systems consist of a minimum amount of different basic elements that can be combined in different ways to create a wide variety of shelters. By reusing and recombining the construction elements along the different stages of the relief and rehabilitation the need for material and financial means can be reduced while the adaptability enables the users to adapt their shelter and dwellings to their needs according to their financial means.

In this paper the relationship between the design rules imposed by the 4 dimensional design strategy and the structural efficiency and behaviour will be investigated. One will examine to what extend basic elements can be reused and recombined to improve the structural behaviour of a construction along the different stages of relief. On one hand the design of a polyvalent connection element will be discussed. On the other hand the impact of the design choices on the different levels (basic element; component; construction) will be highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the IIIrd International Conference on Textile Composites and Inflatable Structures
EditorsE. Oñate, B. Kröplin
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-84-96736-30-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Publication series



ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet

Bibliographical note

E. Oñate, B. Kröplin


  • post-disaster relief
  • adaptable shelter kit
  • process-based design
  • similitude theory


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