Many emergency shelter designs fixate on the deployability of the shelters. The fact is that only in largest, best-funded emergency responses is there enough money to pay for planes and ships to transport shelter. Locally procured materials are far more commonly used, and it is extremely difficult to have something that is more cost-effective than locally bought corrugated galvanised iron sheeting, timber or other materials.

Exo Shelter

Exo Shelters weigh 217kg, provide 6.7m2 of covered space and sleeps 4, providing 1.7m2 per person.

“An Exo housing unit provides private living and sleeping quarters for up to four people, within a climate-controlled, secure environment. Flexibility comes standard, too. The Exo’s design allows for a wide variety of configurations to meet any need or condition.”

“since the Exos stack like coffee cups, they ship just as fast whether traveling via rail, cargo ship, or cargo aircraft. Housing sites for sheltering thousands of people can be set up in under twenty-four hours, depending on the distance between the storage facilities and deployment location.”

Exo is a product of Reaction Inc, which has “one goal in mind: to revolutionize disaster response. The Reaction team is comprised of some of the world’s absolute best designers, technologists, and business minds.”


Airdrop Shelter

“Airdrop Shelter is een, vanuit de lucht, lichtgewicht dropbare nood-/vluchtelingentent die na een (natuur)ramp ingezet kan worden in gebieden waar de infrastructuur zwaar getroffen is. De Airdrop Shelter wordt als een parachute boven een rampgebied gericht gedropt, zodat de slachtoffers snel over noodbehuizing en andere hulpgoederen (bijvoorbeeld lichtgewicht kachel, voedsel, medicijnen, etc.) kunnen beschikken om te overleven.”

[Airdrop Shelter is an air-droppable lightweight emergency/refugee tent that can be utilised after a (natural) disaster in areas where the infrastructure is heavily hit. The Airdrop Shelter is dropped as a parachute over a disaster-area so that victims can quickly obtain emergency shelter and other goods (for example lightweight stoves, food, medicines etc) in order to survive.]

The Airdrop Shelter is just a concept, without a working prototype. It’s unlikely it would ever work. Airdrops are a last resort in emergency response. It’s impossible to ensure the aid gets to those who need it most, and can cause conflict and violence if there is not enough to go round. Also, the packaging needed to ensure things reach the ground intact is bulky and very expensive. The nets used to hang things, which can rarely be recovered, can costs thousands of dollars each.


Parachute Shelter

Look familiar?


Recovery Huts

Recovery huts weigh 108kg with a covered area of 7.9m2. For a family of 5 this would be 1.6m2 per person.

This appears to be a now defunct idea, as the website has disappeared. It originally got quite a bit of attention though. It has four pre-made quarters which would be joined to form a small hut. It is made of something called “biax material”, which I assume means it is some form of composite with similar properties in two directions….


S.H.R.I.M.P. Housing


Designnobis Pop-up Shelter



This appears to be a concept for a shelter in the shape of a fairly terrifying giant grub, inflated by a see-saw.

Life Box

Life box has 5.6m2 of covered space, for four people, providing 1.4m2 per person. Weight and cost are not known.

“Life Box is designed to meet the inherent life needs of disaster survivors in a rapid and effective way. It is especially built around the idea of air-dropping disaster relief goods into hard to reach zones in 72 / Golden hours. It includes a box that turns into a four-person inflatable tent containing relief goods and a parachute that is used as the outer layer of the tent. The graphic instructions offer easy usage, with a set-up time of less than one minute.”

Adem Önalan, a product designer, came up with this design for a box containing aid that unfolds to become a shelter.


Rapid Deployment Module

The ‘RDM’ has 11.7m2 of covered space at a cost of $15,500 per unit.

“The RDM (Rapid Deployment Module) represents an innovative product and approach to solving one of humanity’s major issues: shelter. as we continue to develop and deploy our shelters, Visible Good will provide visible, sustainable and real impact on the ground to communities in need by creating and managing the pathway for funders and partners to successfully and completely fulfill the need for shelters of many types and sizes. It all begins with the RDM.”


SURI (Shelter Units for Rapid Installation)

One SURI made up of 4 ‘units’ provides approximately has 14m2 of covered space, intended for 4 people. Weight is not given but appears to be approximately 440kg per shelter.

“SURI is a project that started as an easy to transport and assemble emergency shelter, with confort and habitability improvements, that finally has become a low cost architecture modular system.”

Pallet shelter

The size and cost of the ‘pallet shelter’ are not given on the site, but it claims to sleep 4 people. It weighs around 136kg.

“The Pallet Shelter System is a high-quality housing unit that is adaptable to many different scenarios: disaster relief, temporary or homeless housing, emergency response and military operations. Quick to deploy, robust and reusable it is ready to be an invaluable solution to those in need of shelter.”