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Competition Brief

In the past two years, widespread catastrophic events have called forth large-scale relief efforts throughout both urban and rural areas of the world. How would you design an emergency relief structure to be used in the relief efforts of a natural disaster, such as a flood, earthquake or hurricane?

ShelterMe challenges designers to present a cost-effective short-term shelter that is affordable, lightweight, strong and easily deployed.

If your design is geared towards a recurrent scenario in a particular region, you must specify the location and scenario and outline how your scheme is tailored towards the situation and conditions.

Judging Criteria

In addition to the criteria outlined in Rules, judges will take into consideration:

  • How the design accommodates basic needs and supplies, such as insulation, sanitation and first aid

  • The structure’s ability to resist severe environmental conditions

  • Ease of delivery to the disaster zone

  • Ease of construction, dismantling, storage and re-use

  • The potential for mass production and distribution

  • Environmental impact


1st prize: $5000

2nd prize: $3000

3rd prize: $1500

Most Popular prize: $500


Ghassem Fardanesh (Iran) His last posting before retirement was senior physical planner at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva responsible for shelter, site planning, site selection and infrastructure worldwide. In his line of work, he introduced “Protection Based Physical Planning,” in which the protection of refugees/IDPs is the main concern. He also developed the Light-weight Emergency Tent (LWET) with a lightweight, long shelf life, better living conditions and savings in transport and introduced “Hierarchy of Needs” in formulation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs).

Emiliano Godoy (Mexico) teaches sustainable design at UNAM’s (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) Centre for Industrial Design Research and at ITESM (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey). He runs the design firm Godoylab, and is the design director of furniture manufacturer Pirwi. His awards include a Bronze Leaf at the International Furniture Design Award and an honourable mention at Mexico’s First Design Biennial and his work has featured in several exhibits such as the ICFF, hOLAnDA, Import Export and Galeria Mexicana de Diseño. Godoy is a staff editor of the architecture and design magazine Arquine and is part of the design collective NEL.

Nicholas Goldsmith (USA) is a senior principal at FTL Design Engineering Studio and was previously a designer for Frei Otto in Germany. He is a member of the College of Fellows of the AIA and former Chairman of the Lightweight Structures Association. He has been in charge of design for many traveling projects, including the Carlos Moseley Music Pavilion for the Metropolitan Opera and a deployable theater for AT&T at the 1996 Olympics. His exhibition designs include “Under the Sun,” an exhibition on solar energy for the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and a traveling interactive exhibition for the United Nations (UNFPA).

Mia Ferrara Pelosi (USA) is vice president and co-owner of Global Village Shelters which produces sturdy and easy-to-assemble emergency shelters. She is also COO of Ferrara Design Inc. Working in shelter design brings together her philanthropic interests with her natural acumen for design, business management and organization. Pelosi was formally educated in philsophy and writing, and previously worked in the fashion industry in advertising design and management.

Cynthia E. Smith (USA) trained as an industrial designer and for the past decade has planned and designed projects for cultural institutions. She is the Curator of the exhibition "Design for the Other 90%" at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (on view until September 23, 2007). Most recently she completed a MPA at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, integrating her work experience with her advocacy and activism on the issues of human rights and social justice. While there, she co-authored The Politics of Genocide: US Rhetoric vs. Inaction in Darfur for the Kennedy School Review.

About Competitions

The DESIGN 21 series challenges designers of all disciplines to find solutions to social and global issues. It’s guided by UNESCO’s premise that education, science, technology, culture and communication are tools to spread knowledge and information, build awareness and foster dialogue.

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