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Different Ways to Put A Roof Over Your Head In These Tent Times

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posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 01:32 PM
This is sort of a follow up to a previous thread I created a while back ATS Link: Habitable Treehouses. I am an architect by trade and I always am trying to look for new ideas on how to build housing. With our present crisis and future predictions looking bleak I have been more then curious lately.
So enclosed on this thread are 7 main categories of shelter types ranging from least protection, to the most.
Hope you enjoy and please include any examples you may have stumbled upon. I would love to see them and add them to my own personal database.
Thanx. . . AB

Around America tent cities are springing up as people are losing their houses and their jobs. And it isn't just the drunks and the disturbed; at this tent city in Reno, Seven in 10 were from the area, where the housing market has cratered, the tourism industry is in the dumps and construction jobs have disappeared. They are the modern Hoovervilles (Bushburbs?) filled with economic refugees.

1. Shelter Cart Housing

At the most basic level, architects and designers have been looking at the issue of basic shelter and ways to move it around. The challenges are great: housing must be readily portable but robust enough to protect the homeless or refugees from the elements. It must be extremely cost effective. It should preserve some degree of dignity for people who are already suffering loss.
The Italian group ZO_loft architecture & design (Andrea Cingoli, Paolo Emilio Bellisario, Francesca Fontana, Cristian Cellini) now adds their vision to the concept of temporary shelter. The ZO_loft Wheelly is private, portable, and offers a clever trick to solve issues of cost.

While the Shelter Cart competition may not be an answer to the problem of homelessness, it certainly raises questions and challenges our ideas. We also are intrigued by ideas for living with less and nobody does so like the homeless. Smart camping equipment manufacturers should look closely. Barry Sheehan and Gregor Timlin didn't win the competition with their version of the shelter cart, but built a working model of it.

The Shelter cart competition from Designboom produced a lot of interesting entries, including PUMP AND JUMP by Jeong-Yun Heo and Seong-Ho Kim Chung Lee from korea .

2. Emergency Housing

These are larger designs to accommodate families in emergency situations.

A shame this design is only in the protoyping stage or its ‘rapidly deployable’ nature could be getting some real world field testing right now. Conceived by 5 professional designers in Germany, the Zip-Shelter has both sub zero and hot climate versions. Looks like a heap of research has gone into the design, with the originators gleaning ideas from trialling shelters from Vietnam to 4000m high mountains. The idea is that 75 Zips (two different sizes) would squeeze into a standard 20 foot shipping container.

With the devastating myriad of natural disasters now becoming more and more commonplace, is it possible to design a more effective relief response that won’t echo the shamefully negligent FEMA trailer fiasco? Though it looks a little flimsy and a little too much like a second-year design studio project, designers Matthew Malone, Amanda Goldberg, Jennifer Metcalf and Grant Meacham most probably had good intentions in mind when they came up with the intriguing, accordion-shaped reCover Shelter, which they claim can hold a family of four for up to a month and can be set up in a matter of minutes.

We have shown quite a few emergency shelter designs, but Rafael Smith may have come up with the first high-density multi-storey one. "This project is a shelter solution that meets the needs of emergency response but also provides victims with a more personal place to live; a base unit that can serve as a very basic shelter but also have the capabilities to upgrade and implement modern infrastructure. This shelter is also stackable. Many alternative housing solutions deal with small scale but can’t cope with large scale displaced populations."

Kate Storr of Architecture for Humanity notes that "For emergency shelter in the first few days after a disaster, the tent is a proven solution;" Patrick Wharram's Lightweight Emergency Shelter is a mini building that's easy to transport and can be erected immediately. Wharram’s design is shipped in one piece -- an aluminum frame sewn into a piece of recycled polyester fabric allows for mass-production as well as an easy pop-up setup, reducing the possibility of misplacing pieces.

Sometimes it is hard to find a place to park your tent. Artist Michael Rakowitz says: "(P) LOT questions the occupation and dedication of public space and encourages reconsiderations of "legitimate" participation in city life. Contrary to the common procedure of using municipal parking spaces as storage surfaces for vehicles, P (LOT) proposes the rental of these parcels of land for alternative purposes.

Jorge at Inhabitat calls Ming Tang's temporary shelters "origami inspired"; They remind me more of the tensile structures of Frei Otto They were developed as temporary shelters for the homeless after last May's earthquake in Chian that left millions homeless and shown at the Urban Re:vision competition.

3. Yurts

In terms of bang for the buck or strength-to-weight, there are few housing forms that compete with the yurt. You can buy a traditional yurt:

Yves Ballenegger loves driving trucks and founded Globetrucker, a non-profit that brings school supplies to the children of Mongolia. Instead of driving back empty, he filled it with yurts, furniture and other handicrafts.
As an architect I have often joked about yurts but had never actually been in one. I was shocked at the sophistication of the structure and the degree of comfort.

While the Mongolians developed the yurt as a form of mobile housing, most we have seen are have been permanently installed.
Howie Oakes spent years developing a truly portable yurt, and his own words explain it better than I could:
"I have been interested in nomadic homes for a long time, and became fascinated with the yurt after weathering a number of Burning Man dust storms in a small yurt that a friend built. I started looking into what was available, and saw that the typical western yurt had moved well beyond its roots as a truly nomadic home. I think that these yurts do indeed make excellent low impact housing, but I wanted a yurt that my family could easily transport and setup wherever we went."

When I learned that David Masters of the Luna Project lived in one just a few minutes away from Cambridge, Ontario, I had to check it out. He actually has two of them made by Oregon's Pacific Yurts, a 30' diameter 706 square foot classroom, and a 24' diameter home unit.

OK, yurts are no longer a bad hippie joke; they are light and efficient and a viable alternative to traditional construction. We have shown traditional Mongolian yurts, learned from David Masters that living in a yurt is quite comfortable, and seen "updated" yurts before; From near Ottawa, Canada comes the Yurta, Marcin Padlewski and Anissa Szeto's reinvention of the traditional nomadic dwelling.

The Nomad Yurt was designed by Stephanie Smith of Los Angeles. She has updated the design in “in terms of aesthetics and materials” and it does have a modular plywood floor, but the price?

4. Shipping Containers to the Rescue

They can be hot and hard to drop into emergency situations, but could be applicable in some circumstances:

Aussie architect Sean Godsell's small masterpiece is a refugee housing unit made from a ready-made, re-used shipping container. Super-efficient and simple, but made to last and protect, the unit uses a bare minimum of industry materials. Since it's entirely self-contained, a number of units can be shipped together to their destination of need. It's solar powered, too.

T.E.D. (Transportable Emergency Dwelling) is a product which takes advantage of two systems to solve a global problem. The world has an incredibly advanced transportation infrastructure which allows product to move from country to country with relative speed and efficiency. Emergency housing is needed globally so why not use that infrastructure to our advantage. To optimize the shipping of these housing units they must fit within the footprint of the most widely used shipping containers. Each housing unit is self sustaining in the correct conditions, meaning it can collect water and create energy through solar panels. One shipping container can house two families of 4 people comfortably. It can be expanded to fit more. Once these units are done being used, they may be shipped back to their origin for restoration and refurbishment for their next adventure.

By combining SuperTherm with closed cell polyurethane spray insulation a shipping container can easily be converted into a comfortable lab or medical center for use in extreme climates. One of my first jobs was building a tuberculosis clinic in the Afar region of Ethiopia, one of the hottest places on earth. It probably would have been more economical and efficient to purchase a pre-fab lab (had we had this technology back then), ship it to Djibouti, one of the largest ports in East Africa, and truck it a few hours up the road to our location. Outfitted with solar panels we could have been running samples within a few hours rather than spending months building the clinic. Construction slowed dramatically between 11 and 3pm when temperatures reached over 110F.
Aid Worker Daily

5. Trailers

Notwithstanding the disaster that was the FEMA trailer after Katrina, trailers have a role to play as people are forced to become more mobile, following work. There is also an existing infrastructure to deal with them with trailer parks across the nation, so they can be plumbed and plugged in without reinventing the infrastructure or dealing with land tenure issues. A properly designed and built trailer can be a viable solution for people on the move. Inventors have been working on them for years:

Trailers are fascinating models of efficient design, showing how one can live in small spaces, often demonstrating the efficiencies and promise of mass production. The trailer park is also an interesting model of tenure, enabling people to own their units but rent their land, reducing the price of entry. Both present real opportunities.

Sometimes they had wacky ideas:

"For the motoring tourist who wants to carry his home along but wants no bulky trailer blocking his rear vision from the driver’s seat, a folding trailer has been developed. When collapsed for driving, it is streamlined to a point at the rear and is below the rear window of the car. Yet when open it is spacious enough for comfortable living quarters, accommodating a double bed and two single beds, stove, sink, refrigerator, water tank, drawers and cabinets. It is six feet two inches wide and thirteen feet four inches long."

Sometimes they look interesting but don't work out:

It may well be that towing a trailer behind a station wagon is not the most fuel efficient way to travel, but squeezing all the air out of it and making it fold up as small as possible certainly is going to help. While pop-up trailers have been around forever, Dutch designer Niels Caris has designed a very clever pop-out unit that expands to many times its folded size, in a manner not dissimilar to one we have shown from 1936.

We will admit to being partial to Airstream's silver-sleek aluminum style, so imagine our excitement to learn that the free hand given to designers at Nissan Design America (NDA) has resulted in minimalist model which is certain to be the rage in Dutch touring clubs, joining successful European mini-models such as the Eriba Puck, or the Tabbart T@b (see pics over the fold). As reported in Airstream's newsletter, the Base Camp "was the brainchild of NDA aces Bryan Thompson and Steve Moneypenny, who envisioned a travel vehicle that was a springboard for outdoor adventures rather than a living room on wheels."

6. Motor Homes

In some ways they are wonderful: you get to walk around inside while it is moving so they are a lot easier to travel in that a car pulling a trailer, but they are more expensive and less flexible when you want to get around town. Some people have tried to resolve this problem:

Andrew Maynard knows prefab, and that the next step is adding mobility to the mix. Buro North and Andrew Maynard have whipped up this:
"BOB is a hybrid home of the future, a mobile living tool for tomorrows generation of nomadic wanderers. Somewhere between a tent, a house and a Winnebago, BOB explores the relationship between the basic human requirements of travel and shelter."

They don't have to be big; Toyota came up with this 35 years ago:

With more and more Americans having to sleep in their cars, it is too bad that Toyota never put this into production.

Some are fantasies.

"The GMC PAD, an urban loft with mobility, a concept for living in the ever-changing cultural landscape of Southern California or, quite simply, a modern alternative for those priced out of Southern California’s escalating housing market. It’s a home ownership concept that enables cultural & geographic freedom for the modern city dweller. It’s a concept that represents a reasoned solution to the problems of urban sprawl, development, and it’s damaging effects on the region’s environment."

Fixed offices are so 20th century when TreeHuggers have to be everywhere at once. That is why we so happy about the new Nissan NV200, which combines storage and usable interior space by pulling the interior out like a drawer when stopped, so that it is efficient and small while travelling, but gets good access to tools and great interior space when stopped. Instead of having to go back to the office to do our post, we can do it right on site, saving lots of time and fuel. Here it is set up for one of our famous underwater shoots, with all the camera and scuba gear at the ready.

Others build monster trucks that demonstrate the flaws- big, expensive and sucking fuel.

Living combines the best of an RV (easily mobile) with the efficiency of a popup camper (folds down for less wind resistance) and the comfort of a multistorey townhouse. It even has a hot-tub sized bath on the upper level.

it appears to be built with an aluminum frame, while the pop-up is made from an insulated, quilted fabric much like a duvet. The rigid roof hinges up to create lots of space and includes two big walk-out sized velux-type skylights.

There is great appeal to the idea living in efficient small spaces and to not being tied down to real estate; that is why we like the minihome or the portabach or container housing. But just as there is as Mercedes can make a Smart Car and a Maybach, there can be a range in mobile living from the light and green to the extreme. This may well be the Hummer of mobile living, the Unicat. Some people thought it was a garbage truck, but pop up the roof and you are in another world.

7. Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are a type of prefab that is built in a factory on a chassis, but rarely moved once they find their place. There is an existing infrastructure for supporting them, and developers are beginning to build high-end green trailer parks, changing the image of the industry. They offer a great opportunity to let people own housing without having to have the money to buy land. They have been maligned but are in fact a real opportunity.

One response to the Katrina crisis is the Katrina Cottage, a 300 square foot house designed for displaced residents. Most temporary housing looks, well, temporary- it is unusual that such concern for quality of life is expressed in a solution. Designed in a charette led by Andres Duany, a leader of the New Urbanism movement, it has a lot of things going for it, including its appearance (we tend to modern but it is certainly better than a trailer) its size (a great place to start, but they owe credit to Avi Friedman for use of the term Grow House) and its price, which is comparable to a typical FEMA trailer. Marnianne Cusato wants to "provide authentic traditional designs for affordable housing. Design makes a difference."

It looks more like a landing craft that just hit the beach, but in fact it is a mobile artists studio that was built in 2003 by Kortknie Stuhlmacher Architecten of Rotterdam in collaboration with artists BikvanderPol, as part of a municipal art program in Utrecht.

A mobile home that’s stylish? Mais oui! Strict UK planning laws wouldn’t allow Tim Pyne to build a house on his estuary land in Essex. He was permitted, however, a trailer that could be delivered to the site and removed again later. Unimpressed with the options currently on the market (and who could blame him?), he and Michael Howe of mae architects designed m-house (pronounced “mouse”). At 1000 square feet, m-house is over twice the size of the Loftcube...

It should make good green design affordable and accessible. It often does not live up to this promise- many are built far away as second homes, founded on concrete and tethered to the grid like any other house. Thats why we continue to be so excited about the Sustain MiniHome- conceptually a travel trailer, it can go anywhere, including parks all over North America.

More on Portable Architecture

Jennifer Siegel nails it again, with her term "new nomadism", describing the trend towards mobile, lightweight, eco-friendly lifestyles. We're working and living in a very different way, and yet our buildings have remained static, heavy structures. Our cars are smart, our clothing is smart, our materials are smart and our buildings are still these heavy boxes."
Gone Today, Gone Tomorrow Link
Link to Full Source

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 01:39 PM
They make those trailer campers for bicycles too:

Although they are a little pricey and no doubt heavy to pull for hours on end.

I lived for a couple of months out of a enclosed hammock like a Hennessey hammock. Weighed only a pound or two and I could set it up anywhere in 2 minutes. Plus it was almost invisible. Even when shinning a bright light directly at it. Stood up to snow and rain too.

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 01:44 PM
reply to post by thisguyrighthere

That's actually not as crazy an idea as it looks. With no fuel situations it would be ideal.

Hammocks are the best to sleep in, easy to put up and low to maintain. I can't stress enough how important it is to stay off the ground in the woods.

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 01:47 PM
Why do I have to be attracted to all of the impractical options???

Great post! I'll be on ebay looking for my Mercedes Benz/Monster truck/RV.....

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 01:48 PM

Originally posted by AnteBellum

Hammocks are the best to sleep in, easy to put up and low to maintain. I can't stress enough how important it is to stay off the ground in the woods.

That was the biggest benefit. I didnt have to worry about dampness, critters, getting stomped by a larger critter, rocks, uneven ground, or any of that stuff.

Just string my lines, unroll my hammock and hop in.

I had a small tarp I'd string up just above the hammock then tent down either side for rain or snow.

Some of the best sleep I'd ever gotten even down below freezing.

Just typing this makes me want to break it out and spend another month or two in it.

Hmm... how much vacation time do I have stored up?

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 01:51 PM
Very interesting and creative.

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 02:00 PM
Great thread. I am in love with the Uber Shelter and I have always liked Yurts. There is actually a place around here that sells used trailers and rv's. we were thinking about getting one and fixing it up. That way if we need to move the family due to inhospitable conditions, the kids would at least have a decent shelter from the elements.

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 02:03 PM
reply to post by AnteBellum

Great thread! I really enjoyed looking at all these. It actually made me feel a lot better about the very tiny apartment I live in about 400 sq ft. It looks huge compared to alot of these designs!
I moved from a huge seven room house, 2 baths, with a bedrm that was 30 ft by 14ft. So ..trying to cut down on expenses, I had to find something I could afford without it making me work 2 jobs to keep it up.
I had to sell and give away furniture and and things I really hated to part with, especially all my books. I had over 2,000 books! I donated 300 hundred to the local library and gave books away.
I have come to terms with all that now, but ever so often I wish I had certain books back.
And a big bathrm is definitely missed !! I can barely turn around in this one., also anyone sitting on the toilet ..a BIG disadvantage, your knees buckle up against the shower, so you have to sit sideways with your knees up against the sink cabinet.
Also no washer and dryer connections, that I agreed to, needed a smaller place. So I wash clothes on a scrub board.
edit on 8-6-2011 by ellieN because: added to.....

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 02:03 PM
Or you can go to Costco...

Lightspeed® Ample 6 Tent
6-person Tent


It sets up in just 3 minutes. When I go camping with friends and they have those pole 4 person tents, I get my tent up and start on my six pack atleast 15 minutes before there done! It's a great tent!

Cool Thread! S&F

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 02:05 PM
reply to post by ellieN

My heart responded to your mention of books. I too have a massive collection and have thought about what I would do if the dark day came and I had to part with them. Part of me wants a trailer just for them.

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 02:13 PM
reply to post by ellieN

It is unfortunate that most apartments are built for economy, not efficiency.

I am a strong believer in the use of space - all of it!
Most houses neglect ceilings and rooves and apartments designs just try to fit everything in the envelope that's needed.
I always say build up, not out!

Be innovative!

edit on 6/8/2011 by AnteBellum because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 02:38 PM
reply to post by AnteBellum

Thanks for the ideas! I'll ask the owner if I can put some shelves on the walls and use the kitchen ceiling for hanging up pots and pans. And put some small shelves in that closet bathrm for linens. That would really help with the piled up clutter.

The apartment is attached to a larger home that the owner has rented out also. I am going to email him now!!

posted on Jun, 8 2011 @ 08:27 PM
reply to post by AnteBellum

a welcome change from your sublimated cannibalism threads

here are some morefrom japan

zero-yen house


This is a homeless's house along a riverside in Tokyo. I met it in 2000. I could talk with him in this house and survey the scale. Surprisingly, he uses the solar panel!

posted on Jun, 9 2011 @ 05:04 AM
This is a great thread, bringing awareness to our options for emergency housing. I also wanted to add that my husband and I can get a tipi up within hours, fire pit dug out, etc. It's not hard to get one going, just make sure you do it right when using a fire inside.

posted on Jun, 9 2011 @ 06:01 AM

Slow scrolling past, get to the end want to make a point...

faster scrolling...

uhh not even looking now.

I'm accidentally hitting the middle mouse button now, as opposed to scrolling, it's just soooooo long.

HOLY HANNAH! that was one heck of a post!!!!

But, none of it helps people who, in the eyes of the law, are camping illegally.

Have house, or live in gutter.
Have job, or die in gutter.

The system has been designed to eradicate people under a certain set wealth achievable. If you'll never be a party person, you're not even worthy of care beyond "Oh that? is it still there?"

I've got my kit, just waiting for the law to crumble so it's not illegal.

posted on Jun, 9 2011 @ 06:34 AM
Quite an impovement over your custom-designed cardboard box. Thanks. Now all that's needed is for charities, churches, and other real or pretend relief groups to provide these up-scale portable homes to people and families who need them.

posted on Jun, 9 2011 @ 06:27 PM
reply to post by AnteBellum

Great thread! I really like the Yurts... I shall have one some day!

posted on Jun, 9 2011 @ 09:40 PM
What a great post! Thanks for collecting all of this info and presenting it well - so much new information for me, but I found it very easily understood!

I remain a fan of the yurt, but if anyone wanted to buy me a present, I'd take the townhouse truck.


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