Flexi-legged Shelter can be built from disaster scrap


January 18, 2013

Carter Williamson's Shelter on show at last year's Sydney Architecture Festival

Carter Williamson's Shelter on show at last year's Sydney Architecture Festival

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With its modestly named Shelter, architecture firm Carter Williamson has thrown its hat into the disaster response emergency housing ring. Tthe emphasis appears to be on flexibility, Shelter having been designed for easy transportation and rapid construction in a range of less-than-ideal circumstances. Most interesting is that the prefabricated Shelter is also designed to be built using scrap materials recovered from disaster zones.

To make transportation of the Shelters as easy as possible, Carter Williamson has opted for a prefabricated design than can ship flat packed. The design is based on notional units of 2.4 meters (8 feet): the interior height and width of a standard shipping container or haulage truck. However, intriguingly, the designers suggest that a Shelter could also be constructed from salvaged materials. This probably explains the use of corrugated metal, though how this process would work in practice (and to what extent new materials, like the flexible legs, would be needed) isn't entirely clear.

According to Carter Williamson, the 37.5 sq m (404 sq ft) Shelter can be put up by two people in a day. It ships with adjustable scaffolding props – the legs on which Shelter stands – with the idea that it can be erected upon uneven ground. When done with, the Shelter can be disassembled for reuse.

A single Shelter can house 8 to 10 people, with a mezzanine roof space used for sleeping quarters (or to provide a useful private space during the day). However, the Shelters are designed to be adaptable, and can be arranged end to end to create larger areas for mass catering, or as an an administrative nerve center.

Shelter is also designed to be self-functioning off-grid, shipping with 1.5 kW of roof-mounted photovoltaic solar power as well as a solar hot water system and a 950-liter water-collection tank. There's an optional outdoor decking area which adds compost toilet, shower, and gas-cooking facilities.

Carter Williamson hopes that a version of the Shelter, renamed Pavilion, could see uses diverse as holiday homes, remote science outposts or even permanent accommodation.

There are some outstanding questions. What's it made from, besides some sort of corrugated metal? What is the status of the Shelter? Has an end cost been worked out? And, perhaps most intriguingly, is there a method in mind for using recovered materials to make Shelter? We've posed Carter Williamson these questions and will let you know what we hear.

Source: Carter Williamson, via Arch Daily

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

In the states there's a phenomenon named 'The Tiny House' movement. It entails people building homes on flat trailers, some as small as 100 sq. ft. (9 sq. meters) it's more of an example of how to minimize belongings and live without mortgage payments, a new lifestyle... For most of us this is very attractive, but not so much practical. This little home @ 400 sq. ft. or 37 sq. meters makes a lot more seems to be designed for habitation, not hobbits. The design as shown looks rather industrial, or perhaps a bit like a big metal bin, but that's easily fixed with some simple exterior cladding...inside it is infinitely more livable, and realistic than a home built to fit in a single car parking space. As for portability, it claims it can be set up in a day, perhaps two for those lacking DIY skills. Packing house and moving it should be no issue at all, perhaps your very own shipping container onsite that doubles as a shed would be the perfect carrying case for transport. I like it, a price would be nice if it's in production and not a one of a kind...but as pictured it was made for a trade show, so i would assume it's still just a proto type. My tiny house would have to be this size...

John Parkes

Tents ship and erect so easily.


These would be better than the tents on Nauru for asylum seekers and we could recycle later as disaster response supplies. And we would be supporting an Australian invention as well.

Sandra Baxendell
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