Competition Details

Shelter First

by Steve Helsing

Shelter First is an emergency short- to medium-term relief shelter that builds upon the proven simplicity and strength of A-Frame construction by incorporating unique design features that facilitate fast and easy deployment; that create comfortable, multi-purpose and reconfigurable living spaces; and that favor the use of natural, biodegradable materials.

The basic structure of the shelter consists of a solid, raised floor covered by a semi-rigid, bio-polymer canopy in the style of an A-Frame. A solid floor ensures that the shelter is strong and stable. Raising the floor prevents water and pests from entering the shelter and increases comfort by insulating against snow or ice covered ground. A raised floor makes it easy to remove dirt and there is arguably a psychological advantage of being off the ground. The canopy is a single piece of double-sided bio-plastic with a honeycomb interior that provides insulation in both hot and cold weather.

The shelter has minimal environmental impact by using 100 percent biodegradable materials. The floor and frame is constructed from pressed wood fibre and cardboard tubes while the canopy is made from corn plastics.

Each shelter ships as a self-contained unit that requires no additional tools or resources for assembly. Pre-assembled shelters are low-volume and stack easily in shipping containers.

Shelter assembly is a simple 2-step, intuitive process that requires no tools or specialized knowledge. A system of interlocking and telescopic cardboard tube field joints is used to align and secure the two-piece floor and to raise the canopy. The vertical tubes that prop up the canopy can also be used to create ad-hoc space dividers, rooms, or support washing lines.

Finally, shelters can be connected together to create spaces for families or communal areas. This modularity also means that cooking and cleaning areas can be separate from sleeping and living quarters.