Disasters have occurred for ages. However, the last decade the amount of emergency situations has increased in a frightening way. Assistance in emergency situations caused by disasters is really complex, since relief agencies have to cope with a great number of varying factors (climatologic, geographic, cultural, social, demographic, …). Additionally, they have to act quickly to assist the population as fast as possible. However the unknown factors and the unpredictable nature of emergency situations have to be materialized to assist the victims.Research has proved that the current international relief actions are deficient (partly) due to inappropriate infrastructure. The conventional solutions for tents and units are designed and built in a static way, which means that they present embedded characteristics and a lack of compatibility and adaptability. This results in difficulties to anticipate regarding unpredictable and ever changing situations. The uncertainty and the great number of unknown parameters require the use of polyvalent solutions which can be adapted easily to the current circumstances. This PhD project concentrates on the development of adaptable and reusable building systems that can be set up under emergency situations caused by different kinds of catastrophes. The research also includes the development of a design catalogue that contains an overview of the usable building components and the potential shelters. The use of such a catalogue should offer the opportunity to relief agencies to choose and to implement the most appropriate solution.An important goal of the research project is to ensure the continuity between the material aid and the (self) development of the afflicted people. This means that the completion with local construction elements and materials, and the conversion of a temporary shelter into a long term habitat (or another kind of infrastructure) must be allowed. We propose to upgrade and to use the generating system developed by professor Hendrickx (Department of Architecture, Vrije Universiteit Brussel) to develop adaptable and compatible building systems. This generating system contains rules that determine the form and dimensions of the building elements and components. The use of this systematic results in building elements that could be mutually tuned. Constructions can be adapted by adding or extracting components or by combining the used components in another way. Moreover, due to compatibility, construction elements belonging to different building systems can be combined or exchanged. Reuse and recycling are integrated from the initial design stage in order to implement continuity between relief and reconstruction.This concept makes it possible not only to adapt a shelter to the current circumstances – e.g. by adapting the size, the form, the insulation, the ventilation … - but also the (re)use of construction elements for other purposes. Membranes and textiles are flexible and lightweight. This makes them appropriate for temporary shelters. Making use of the above generating system our first goal is to develop adaptable membrane-based building systems which - in a later stage - can be combined with another kind of (local) system. Hence complementary to the study of flexible, lightweight materials, a research on building systems based on rigid materials has to be started. The adaptable building system will be designed to offer adequate shelter for the victims of different kind of catastrophes in different parts of the world. The PhD research concentrates on 3 housing issues in emergency situations: housing shortage after the tsunami in Sri Lanka, displacement as a consequence of the armed conflict in Sudan and housing shortage and displacement as a consequence of the war in Afghanistan.