Competition Details

Component-Based Approach to Emergency Housing

by peter lynch

We've developed and tested a number of compact, inexpensive, environmentally-friendly structural components. They can be used independently or in conjunction with standard construction elements (bamboo or cardboard poles, cable ties, tarps, “plyboo” sheathing).

1) In-Line Connectors make an adjustable, reusable, rigid, in-line, two- or three-way connection between structural poles. Especially appropriate for bamboo. Materials: plywood/softwood mini sandwich panel with polypropylene webbing, threaded rod, washer, nut. Two sizes accommodate all structural conditions in a typical house frame—beam/column, rafter/beam, rafter/gable, etc.
2) “Spider” Connectors create a reusable, rigid, lapped 90-degree connection between structural poles. Galvanized welded iron rod, rubber coated. Provides a positive seat for lapped/lashed poles and speeds construction.
3) “Bentbar” Struts create simple space frames for floor or roof plates spanning 4-6 meters in both directions. Material: bent laminated bamboo joined with small mechanical fasteners; plyboo face.
4) Collapsible Sandwich: prefabricated wall/floor/roof/ceiling panel. 25mm thick shipped, 100-200mm assembled. Core of corrugated cardboard or cement-impregnated cellulose; plyboo facing.

Advantages of a component-based approach:

1) Flexiblity. Requirements for emergency shelter differ from place to place and situation to situation. These components can build a conventional tent-like shelter or one with an elevated/ insulated floor, rigid walls, etc. Dimension, roof pitch, sheathing, ventilation, insulation, etc. can be matched to local requirements.
2) Economy. Allows responders to stockpile and “mix and match” supplies—reducing cost, shipping distances, delivery time.
3) Local procurement. Elements are simple and materials are readily available or substitutable; increases likelihood of production in developing countries.
4) Increased involvement of recipients. Construction process is fast and simple but requires user input; reduces passivity.
5) Compactness. Like components can be densely stacked and shipped.
6) Reutilization. Post-disaster, components can be broken down (except collapsible sandwich panel which cannot be re-flattened) and returned or re-used in local conventional construction.