Program looks for innovative solutions to shelter needs following a disaster
Last week, the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Young Architects Forum (YAF) and Committee on Design (COD) selected the recipients of the first annual YAF/COD Ideas Competition.
Submitters were asked to explore the issue of temporary relief housing that could have a permanent function, through a concept design problem. While successful site adaptability is a key goal and criterion for this competition, the specific site to demonstrate the solution consists of approximately 200 acres at Houston’s Astrodome and the surrounding parking lots. Entrants could include modifications to the structure of the Astrodome in their proposal, may allow the Astrodome to remain untouched and focus solely on the surface parking areas, or may have some combination of the two. Individual entries could focus their solutions on the provision of either temporary or permanent housing. Entrants were encouraged to address issues of uncertainty associated with either types of housing and with temporary solutions that become permanent.
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The jury for the YAF/COD Ideas Competition includes: Barton Phelps, FAIA, Barton Phelps & Associates; Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, Pugh + Scarpa Architects Inc. and Mehrdad Yazdani, Assoc. AIA, Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design.
“Disaster planning is a serious design problem; to dedicate a design competition to this is wonderful,” said the jury. “Overall the depth of exploration of the problem (shelter) seen in the submissions was wonderful.”
Two projects tied for first place; FREE by Gene Kaufman Architect. P.C. and Woven Shelter by Jiyoun. The Community Unit by Eric Polite received third place. Below you can see short descriptions of each project. These projects were recognized June 10 at the AIA National Convention in Miami.
FREE (1st Place) Gene Kaufman Architect. P.C.
Lightweight, prefabricated modules that condense to 8’x16’ for storage and transportation, but expand effortlessly 250% on site provide sufficient shelter to those displaced by a disaster. These modules can be easily transported and assembled by untrained labor and are adaptable to varying terrain and climates and are viable for long term use.
The three telescoping modules (cooking/bathing, sleeping and living) are fitted with pivoting solar panels and wind turbines to provide power exceeding demand load to energize batter storage. Roof storm water retention provides clean water, solar-powered hot water, and grey water; combined with the dry composting toilet, this eliminates dependence on any utilities.
Fabric-made tents are and have been the most effective solution to shelter needs after a disaster strikes. The issue of advancing the design and durability of these tents from temporary structures to more permanent was the central idea behind the Woven Shelter. Design advances the conventional fabric shelter by exploring the potential of geometric shapes which both enclose as well as structure.
A sequence of donut-like membranes allows the user to shelter themselves by filling the bag with cheap, local resources such as sand. These membranes are then woven into strands and become a self supporting structure without the need for additional framing. This system allows for user flexibility as long term users can pack mud or aggregate material onto the fabric and short term users can string large sheets of fabric between the long term shelters.
In the wake of disasters, whether man-made or natural, survivors are often left without inhabitable shelter. By providing living units for tho
se displaced, the Community Unit solution solves this issue. Portable units composed of recycled plastic polymers and metal alloys can be delivered to provide survivors with shelter at designated locations, such as the Astrodome in Houston after Hurricane Katrina.
Each unit is comprised of separate components that would be prefabricated off-site and delivered by truck. The units are designed to stack vertically and be arranged with others to form small communities of units.