“Rapid Deployment Module” shelter assembles in 25 minutes, no tools required


April 16, 2013

Each RDM unit can be assembled within 25 minutes by just two people, no tools required

Each RDM unit can be assembled within 25 minutes by just two people, no tools required

Image Gallery (8 images)

Massachusetts company Visible Good has developed a new emergency shelter design that could prove useful during a humanitarian crisis. Dubbed “Rapid Deployment Module” (RDM), the shelter is portable, reusable, and can be assembled in around 25 minutes by just two people, no tools required.

Like the Modularflex shelter we recently reported on, the RDM is delivered as a self-contained unit In the case of the RDM, the shipping crate itself is utilized as a base for the shelter. The RDM features hard walls (which double up as whiteboards), raised floors, and a vented fabric roof. Lockable doors and windows should afford at least some additional security compared to a fabric tent, and the lifespan of each unit is rated at a decade.

Visible Good reports that the RDM shelters can be used, and reused, in a variety of emergency situations, including disaster relief, first-response, and even education. Indeed, as shown in the Image Gallery, the 130 square-foot (12 square-meter) interior of the shelter can be outfitted with bunk beds, desks, or medical equipment, depending on what the situation on the ground requires.

The RDM has already seen some degree of real-world success, as BP recently purchased 26 units for use in the ongoing cleanup operation of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the U.S. Army has awarded Visible Good a research and development grant for the production of an “extreme” RDM, suitable for the most challenging weather conditions.

As of writing, we've not yet had word back from Visible Good as to the per-unit price of the RDM shelters.

Source: Visible Good

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

The fabric roof make security laughable.

If you want to do disaster relief take a 40ft shipping container and build sanitary toilets in one end, a biomass converter powered trigeneration plant in the middle, and a field kitchen in the other end. Then fill the empty space inside with a water purifier, a large first aid kit, tents for 40 people, and as much durable food as load limits permit.


Rather hi-tech for crises in remote or low-development areas.

See :

Now these babies are lo-tech, difficult for nutty dictators' warplanes to spot and you could even sneak one up in your garden and throw some turf on top without the local building authorities spotting it.

Doug MacLeod

re; Doug MacLeod

Interesting but very heavy, it needs a lot of fresh water, and it can't provide shelter tonight.


@Slowburn - Even with a fabric roof, it's still more secure than a tent.

Shipping containers are solid as hell (there are earthquake-proof houses made from them in British Colombia) but they can't really be loaded into a helicopter or a truck


re; AngryPenguin

The point of shipping containers is that they can be moved sealed by ship, train, and truck.

You have me on helicopters but moving 40 people to the closest point a truck can get by helicopter does not present a problem. Assuming of course that the container can be sealed water tight (weld it shut if you have to) it floats. Granted it is a tough job to get it out of the water without a crane but if you have 40 people not doing anything else.


You just need a bigger helicopter- the Russians have them.

A Skycrane would work,too,depending on the load.

C-130's were designed for ro-ro containers, too.

Obviously expensive, but so are ALL lifting helicopters.

For coastal response, Wrap them in plastic and float them in.

Use a portable conveyor belt to get them up or make grappler lift trucks than can grab from each end.

They already have overhead lifters they just need something that can be more maneuverable and offroad capable.


slowburn you don't understand either containers or the reason for these.

First go into a container on a hot or cold day and let us know how you like it.

Next shipping costs is 10x's for containers vs flat pack.

Fabric roofs are fine and better than metal in many cases.

I'd like to see foam sandwich walls, roof SIP style that one could use metal/plastic tape to assemble cheaply that would save much on heating, cooling costs, suffering most emergency shelters ignore.

A container of long sheets, tape, plastic hinges, clear plastic for windows and hand saws would be cheaper, better and you could pay people to assemble them helping them more.

With some composite, metal or wood corner pieces it could even be fairly long term for $200/unit.


i wonder why tent fabric and thin shell fiberglass are still being used when advanced materials like coroplast are available in a cost effective market. they even have hurricane proof panels. someone please explain this to me.

Joe Wesson
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