Disaster relief shelters need to be cost-effective, easy to transport and quick to construct, which explains why many, including Ikea's, use a flat-pack design. Showing just what's possible in this format, the Duffy Shelter can be constructed in less than an hour and up to 35 of them can be transported in a single van.
The shelter is designed by London-based studio Duffy London, which also fabricates them, and came about after company founder Chris Duffy was asked to volunteer for a day building emergency shelters. Although he enjoyed the day, Duffy felt that the shelters that he and the group were building simply weren't practical, with too many fiddly parts, lengthy construction times and too much bulk for easy transport.
That day, says Duffy, he committed to designing a shelter that would address these issues and he's been working on the design for the past year-and-a-half. The result is a raised, pod-like structure measuring 185 x 125 x 142 cm (73 x 49 x 56 in) that can sleep two adults and be assembled using only a screwdriver.
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The flat-pack wooden pieces of the Duffy shelter are produced using a CNC cutting machine, with the wood itself sourced from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-managed forests and other controlled sources. Among the wooden pieces of each shelter are two walls, a floor, a pair of crossing legs, four feet and two doors. Additional components include hinges, windows, shutters, seals and screws.
By raising the shelter up on its legs, it is possible to eliminate much of the cold or damp from the ground seeping inside. The interior of the structure is insulated with fabric to help regulate temperature and there's enough space for two adults to sleep side-by-side, as well as an opaque window and a shelf. It's also possible to have a variety of finishes applied to the shelters.
The shelter can, of course, be used for purposes other than disaster relief, such as camping. Duffy cites mini teardrop caravan trailers as one of the inspirations for the shelter's design, which he ensured could be adapted for transportation on a trailer. For large-scale distribution, meanwhile, up to 35 of the flat-packs can be stacked in a standard transit van, providing potential accommodation for up to 70 people.
A number of prototypes of the shelter were created during the design phase, Duffy tells New Atlas, and there is one based on the final design at the Duffy London studio that is being used for reference and for final pre-production design tweaks. We've asked for images of that model, but none were forthcoming, so all we have to share are the computer renders at this time.
The shelter was launched earlier this week and is available for large orders from companies and charities, with a 12- to 16-week lead-time. Single unit availability for the public is expected from the first or second quarter of next year. Pricing is also expected to be released at that time, with quotes for large orders available on request now.