Heated issue

Competition Details

Floating Shelter

by Emma Cubitt


According to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC April 2007), world-wide increase in heavy precipitation will augment flood risk. There is a predicted increase in deaths due to increased natural disaster events, such as a tsunami, heat wave, flood, storms, and fire. The 1998 Chinese Yangtze River Floods left 14 million people homeless and the 2000 Mozambique flood covered much of the country for three weeks, resulting in thousands of deaths and leaving the country devastated. The Floating Shelter was seen as a response to the expected rise in floods worldwide.

Stored and transported in a small carrying case, the boats are modeled on the Zodiac inflatable boat company’s specifications for pleasure craft. In the case of a flood, residents who seek higher ground on a roof or hilltop are provided with a shelter by emergency aid workers. Using an enclosed foot pump, the shelter can be fully inflated in ten minutes. Once inflated, the shelter can fit up to five adults in its cabin. Large buoyancy tubes provide the shelter with a low center of gravity, allowing stability of the craft.

Once inside the boat, a system of high-tension plastic tubes can be inserted as supports for a arch-shaped roof. The polyester cover is breathable, includes a mosquito screen and provides shelter from rain and sun. The Floating Shelter is a first response for flood victims, and would not be used for more than two weeks in total before alternative shelter on dry land is provided.

The Floating Shelter is seen as a solution to the first response needs of flood victims. By creating a comfortable, livable space on the floating craft, those who may have not survived a flood may be saved due to these highly transportable inflatable boats.