How this simple plastic shelter aims to provide refuge worldwide

A prototype quick-to-install shelter, designed by consultancy Suisse, aims to provide sanctuary for refugees, and natural disaster and war victims, if it reaches its crowdfunding target of £30,000.

Models in valley-new door-day copy

A shelter has been designed that aims to make living easier for those who have lost or had to flee their homes.

“Rapid deployment”

The rd-shelter – which stands for rapid deployment – is in its prototype stage, and has been developed by Glasgow-based consultancy Suisse. It aims to be constructed quickly and easily in areas of famine and homelessness, says Paul Gray, principle creative at Suisse.

The consultancy is currently seeking crowdfunding donations for the project, with the aim of reaching a £30,000 target.

Refugees and those who have experienced disasters

The consultancy intends the shelter to be used by those who have been “displaced” from their homes, such as refugees and those who have experienced natural and political disasters like earthquakes and wars.

Plastic sheets

The roughly 274cm x 183cm x 213cm (length x width x height) shelter is made of polycarbonate plastic, with a fluted central layer to provide insulation, shaped as a triangular box or a “Toblerone” shape, says Gray.

The material aims to be light, strong, wind-proof and waterproof, he says, and also opaque, which has been implemented to provide dwellers with “complete privacy”.

Can hold four people

The structures can hold up to two adults and two children maximum, and people can “just about stand up in it”. Once inside, it locks “without keys or padlocks”, so that people can’t open it from the outside.

“Sexual predation can be a big problem in some of these places, which are without light, sanitation and sometimes law,” Gray says. “The shelter would keep people safe, and give privacy when they need to care for and nurse their children”.

No tools needed

The structure holds itself up with “nothing more than tension”, requiring “no hammers or screws”, he adds. It can also be compressed to 25% of its size for transportation.

“If fully assembled, you’d probably get three or four shelters on the back of a truck,” Gray says. “But when compressed, you’d get about 12 or 15 on there. It’s quicker, and reduces the carbon footprint.”

Cavities within the base of the structure provide places for people to sleep in, and also to store vital supplies such as medicines.

“As important as air”

Gray hopes the initial place of instalment could be the refugee camps based on Greek island Lesvos, where he says easy set-up would mean “hundreds of shelters could be lined up, ready to go”.

“Shelter is physiologically a very important thing,” he says. “It’s as important as air, food and water. Once you have that, you have security. People can stay dry away from the elements, and rest properly. It’s imperative that people are in as good a shape as they can be.”

Described as a “semi-permanent” home, the rd-shelter is expected to last for a minimum of a year, and longer if it’s kept in good shape.

Will receive £70,000 funding

An expected price is not yet known. If it meets its funding target of £30,000, the consultancy hopes to develop and sell the shelters to human aid charities, external agencies, and governments, which could distribute them worldwide.

Economic development agency Scottish Enterprise has also promised to donate £70,000 to the project if it meets its £30,000 target.

Gaining this money would allow the consultancy to move beyond design, and develop the engineering and business aspects of the project, says Gray.

“This project has been seven years in the making,” says Gray. “Our designers have brought a lot to the table, and have been constantly refining it but we’ve exhausted our skillsets now – we need help to get it over the line.”

The campaign closes on 11 February, but may be extended. To donate, visit the rd-shelter crowdfunding site.

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