Architecture

Maggie aimed at offering refugees a better shelter

Maggie is envisioned as a community center, school, or medical center
Maggie is envisioned as a community center, school, or medical center
View 9 Images
The ongoing Syrian crisis ensures that the widespread need for Emergency Shelters isn't disappearing anytime soon
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The ongoing Syrian crisis ensures that the widespread need for Emergency Shelters isn't disappearing anytime soon
Maggie is envisioned as a community center, school, or medical center
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Maggie is envisioned as a community center, school, or medical center
Its size is flexible and could offer a floorspace between 27 sq m (290 sq ft) and 300 sq m (3,229 sq ft)
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Its size is flexible and could offer a floorspace between 27 sq m (290 sq ft) and 300 sq m (3,229 sq ft)
The shelter's construction materials include galvanized steel and aluminum supports, while the walls and roof would be built from layers of hard wearing tarpaulin
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The shelter's construction materials include galvanized steel and aluminum supports, while the walls and roof would be built from layers of hard wearing tarpaulin
The walls and roof of the Maggie would be filled with whatever's available to use as insulation, such as straw, sand, or even plastic waste, for example
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The walls and roof of the Maggie would be filled with whatever's available to use as insulation, such as straw, sand, or even plastic waste, for example
Small windows offer some natural light and ventilation
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Small windows offer some natural light and ventilation
Maggie is envisioned as a community center, school, or medical center
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Maggie is envisioned as a community center, school, or medical center
To help move prototype to actual product, DMOA has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise US$41,000
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To help move prototype to actual product, DMOA has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise US$41,000
Once it's up and running, the firm expects a 93 sq m (1,000 sq ft) school or medical ward to cost around $15,700 in construction
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Once it's up and running, the firm expects a 93 sq m (1,000 sq ft) school or medical ward to cost around $15,700 in construction

Humanitarian disasters like the ongoing Syrian crisis prove the widespread need for emergency shelters isn't disappearing anytime soon, so potential improvements in the field are always welcome. Belgian outfit DMOA has thrown its hat into the ring with Maggie: a shelter that functions like a tent, but is more stable and permanent.

While still in the prototype stage, DMOA envisions Maggie eventually serving as a community center, school, or medical center. Its size is flexible and can offer a floorspace between 27 sq m (290 sq ft) and 300 sq m (3,229 sq ft).

The shelter is constructed from galvanized steel and aluminum supports, covered by layers of hard-wearing tarpaulin to serve as walls and roof. In a similar way to the Re:Build shelter, the hollow walls and roof of the Maggie would be filled with whatever's available locally to use as insulation, such as straw, sand, or even plastic waste.

The walls and roof of the Maggie would be filled with whatever's available to use as insulation, such as straw, sand, or even plastic waste, for example
The walls and roof of the Maggie would be filled with whatever's available to use as insulation, such as straw, sand, or even plastic waste, for example

Heating comes in the form of a standard wood-burning stove, while small windows offer some natural light and ventilation. Some kind of efficient heat exchanger system is also planned for the future, as are solar panels. DMOA reports that up to five Maggie units could fit inside a standard shipping container and rates construction time as within one day. The shelter is also modular and can be joined with other units to increase available space.

"Host countries don't allow fixed buildings, but displaced people need structures to create safer environments for their families to survive and rebuild their lives," reasons the team. "We created a low-cost shelter that looks like a tent, but has the qualities and advantages of a solid building."

It's still too early to tell how well the shelter would perform in the real world, but in a bid to find out, DMOA has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise US$41,000 toward moving the prototype into a product. The firm promises to donate the model built using donated money to young orphaned refugees.

Once everything is up and running, DMOA expects a 93 sq m (1,000 sq ft) school or medical ward to cost around $15,700.

The video below shows more information on the project.

Sources: DMOA, Indiegogo

Maggie innovation delivers new hope for refugees

8 comments
Daishi
My only concern is from photo 6 of 9. It looks like a workable design but it looks like there is a 6-7 inch gap between the walls they fill with hay as as insulation. This is sort of similar to the design of the Signature Tent Cabins in Yosemite national park. They acted as permanent structures and what happened is the design of the tents turned out to be fairly ideal for rodents which contributed to an outbreak of Hantavirus infecting 10 people and killing 3. The Yosemite tents were mostly new at 3 years old and used styrofoam between the walls but it was easy for rodents to chew/tunnel through. The single-ply vinyl tents are not as warm but didn't appear to harbor rodents in the same way as the layered tent structure and the people infected were only in the layered tents. So although its a decent enough idea it's probably a likely home to wildlife especially using an insulation like hay.
pwndecaf
I think I'd like one in my back yard - I could get more stuff!
Douglas Bennett Rogers
It looks like there are gaps that would defeat the insulation.
pwndecaf
Hantavirus!?!? Cancel my back yard tent!
Tom_Cryan
It’s not about practically or functionality that is the problem in refugee camps, it’s the politics. Case in point, the Dadaab complex (the world's largest refugee camp) in northern Kenya. It opened in 1991 (25 years ago) as a temporary shelter for Somalis fleeing civil war. Excerpt from interview on NPR (National Public Radio) Fresh Air 1/4/2016. Well, they Kenyan government didn't want to admit any more refugees. So there was a whole new camp that had been built to decongest the old camp because the old camp was already so overcrowded. But the Kenyan government had been stalling, because they thought that if they allowed this new camp to be inhabited, it would act like a pull factor to encourage more refugees to come to the good life in Kenya. They had a very overblown idea of the comforts of the refugee camp. So it was for political reasons - they didn't want to open this camp, which was shocking, really, because you had tens of thousands of people piling up in the desert, looking through the barbed-wire fence at this sparkling new camp with taps and boreholes and clinics and schools which were completely empty. So it was a real political mess. This is an eye-opening interview which documents the life in a refugee camp, the interview is on the following link. http://www.npr.org/2016/01/04/461891627/author-profiles-the-traumatized-people-living-in-the-worlds-largest-refugee-camp
MD
Unfortunately refugee crises are't solved with housing. Maybe if western countries set up sponsored special economic zones (seeking a profit, not as foreign aid) in the developing world, displaced people / economic migrants would be attracted to the potential prosperity within their own region and wouldn't all aspire to being cab drivers in london, or uber drivers in melbourne. It is much cheaper for the developed countries to deal with refugees in their "indigenant" locale, rather than through their in-country welfare system. Oh that's right, the west is bankrupt, and can't even pay the interest on their debts. Well it is up to the 1% to fund the solution.
Don Duncan
MD got it right! New tech won't solve or even help the refugee problem, because it's political. The political solution of free trade zones cures poverty. Unfortunately, "free trade" means unregulated (bureaucrat free) trade and that exposes the lie that capitalism needs to be controlled by govt. Without control, politicians and bureaucrats lose the cut the take to "save" us from economic freedom. Poverty could be eliminated but at the expense of the elite, who live to sacrifice us, not themselves. As long as people support the lie that we need to be protected from ourselves, political parasites will tax away our prosperity.
Nik
Ignoring the political factors, my first thought when seeing the picture, was, it looks wonderful, but very vulnerable to damage by everything, including rats, mice, people, and weather. The most readily available material for building is rammed earth, it cheap, and already on location, and low tech. All that is needed is the panel former's, and a roof structure. I live in a hamlet of old rubble stone built cottages, with clay used as the mortar. They are riddled with holes made by bees, mice, lizards, and the occasional rat. Rats and mice, as everyone knows carry disease, from black death down, and they spoil and contaminate food that is not in vermin proof containers. So any habitation has to be as vermin proof as possible. This shelter isn't. In addition it looks like it would be very vulnerable to 'lift off' and damage in any strong winds, due to the overhanging eaves. Its also expensive. Rammed earth would be far cheaper, and could utilise onsite labour.