Competition Details


by Yoong Shenq Foo

In times of disaster, we will be reminded of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. When homes are ravaged and infrastructures annihilated, survivors struggle to cope with physiological desire, safety and sense of belonging.

In the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, coastal settlements were destroyed, communities displaced. Contemporary conditions defined as refugees, in the context of indigenous culture, the built environment is relative to vernacular architecture. Vernacular architecture is a construction methodology utilising resources available locally, addressing to local needs. In times of exigency, the urge is to construct as many temporary shelters accommodating as many people within the shortest time.

Earthquakes are common in this region and Nias island in west coast Sumatra, Indonesia suffered two major catastrophes within four months following the Asian Tsunami. The displacement of people posed a problem of shantytowns and environmental disaster.

Slums reflect Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs where survivors gather scrap materials, constructing primitive shelter demarking personal spaces for safety and sense of belonging. To prevent ecological debacle, the proposal utilises Indonesia’s vernacular architecture as design concept.

Reusing shells of pre-fabricated shipping containers modified with mass-produced hardwood fixtures the standard sizes of shipping containers allow ease of delivery to disaster zone via cargo vehicles. Gabled-roof, raised flooring, louvered doors and windows allow natural ventilation like indigenous houses where interior fit-outs contain simple and mass-produced furnishings for easy dismantling, storage and reuse. Individual shelters act as family quarters housing four to six occupants where kitchen and sanitary facilities are housed in a separate shared-unit ensuring fire safety and hygiene.

Flexibility in the interior fit-outs allows for individual containers to be modified into various other facilities needed in times of disasters such as site-clinics or police posts. In calamities, the shelter sustains and provides for refuge for a year while refugees wait their rebuilding of their homes.