The frightening increase in the incidence of natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes floods and wildfires around the world has continued to highlight mankind’s need for rapidly-deployable emergency housing. Gizmag has reported many clever designs for emergency housing over the last decade, but Peter Anthony’s collapsible, lightweight mobile platform is the most viable we've yet seen for airdropping and rapidly-deploying housing for large numbers of people. Each self-contained 8'(2.4m) x 8' x 8' living space is constructed of composite material, and hence weighs less than 200 pounds (90.7 kg), folds flat and can be assembled with a single spanner by two people in less than 30 minutes.

Anthony has been a professional building designer for twenty years, but with the depressed housing market in his native North Carolina of the last several years and his recognition of the need for no-compromise efficiency in portable emergency housing, he devoted much of his time over the last few years to develop a system to mitigate the problem.

"This whole thing started from my desire to get involved in supporting relief efforts with disasters throughout the world," Anthony told Gizmag. "I wanted to help so I looked for weakness in disaster response and clearly saw where temporary housing was a problem looking for a low cost but durable solution."

The current design is a folding shelter system which expands to 8' x 8' x 8' of living space and can be configured as long as 48 feet (14.6 meters). The simple transport trailer can be modified to carry up to four shelters along with off-grid support systems that tether with the shelters for extended use.

Weight was the primary design and development concern so the smallest offering comes in at under 200 pounds, utilizing a patent-pending lightweight composite panel system – another system he designed and developed to make assembly quick and easy for non-skilled labor.

“The shelter is simple, lightweight and portable,” said Anthony. “Traditional materials and methods have historically shown significant weakness, being complex and requiring skilled labor to assemble... Being extremely heavy, nearly all of them necessitate additional erection equipment and they’re costly in relation to energy consumption and transport and logistics. This system is designed and engineered to be a solution to the recurring weight to strength issues common among rapidly deployable shelter systems.

“The composite panel material is waterproof and carries an aged thermal resistance value of 6 to 6.5 per inch. It meets class one burn characteristics by not supporting a flame once the source has been removed... The structural integrity of the wall system is integral with the composite panel material and method of fabrication with extruded aluminum edges that fit over the front and rear wall panel edges providing the shape for the final 'cubed' form.

“The aluminum edge extrusions provide the most efficient strength to weight ratio compared to other composite systems. Everything is 'pieced' and/or 'sectioned' to fit inside the floor cavity with the total weight being just less than 200 lbs... The weight savings are secondary to the transportability which was the primary design objective. By making the building collapsible, there’s no transporting of 'dead air' space. The trailer frame can be modified to carry whatever environmental support systems the end user requires, allowing the shelter to be connected to critical support systems by tethered cabling."

Anthony's concept is adaptable to many situations, ranging from emergency sheltering to mobile medical treatment stations, temporary field offices, forward operations facilities, plus many more only limited by imagination.

“Because of its light weight it may be packaged in multiple numbers and air dropped to remote locations with graphical instructions to assist with the assembly of the units," he explained. "Particular attention was spent on the collapsed size of the unit to facilitate low cost, long term storage and staging requiring less real-estate per unit, increasing the quantity available for rapid deployment.”

From my perspective, it's a winner, and one which might make a huge difference to outcomes in disaster situations. What's more, Peter hasn't yet finished.

"I am currently working on a solution for the unsanitary conditions present in all disaster areas that will incorporate this panel technology along with the folding/collapsing nature of the design for a self-contained dry toilet with a gravity fed water filtration system," he said. "The waste treatment system uses fermentation composting allowing the end user to apply the compost to soils within 90 days. The solids and liquid wastes are diverted and separated for the best composting efficiency."

Peter is seeking suitable investment partners to provide seed or grant funding, so the product can be made ready for the market. Interested parties can reach him by email.