Haiti How-to: Shelter.

Over the last 2 days, a workshop has been taking place at Brookes University run by Bill Flinn of CENDEP; The constructing of a temporary timber structure for disaster situations, such as Haiti at present. Though essentially a simple and cheap structure, it is structurally very strong, and hurricane and earthquake-proof to relatively high standards. The aim was to film or photograph the exercise as an educational resource for redevelopment.

It is a basic design of four joining wall panels and a roof structure of rafters and batons constructed in situe. It is the smaller details, bracing and connections which are key.

The 2 side walls have 1 diagonal wooden brace each, the timber offering strength in both tension and compression. The taller wall, to demonstrate an alternative, has a metal cross brace (the metal is only strong in tension).
Joints between many timber strips have metal taping nailed across, which increases the strength of connections immensely. A test conducted at the end of the 2 days showed how much stronger the metal taping made the joints; a small strip of metal made such a difference that it had to be repeatedly pushed back and forth until the metal snapped. This  behaviour is very unlike that of wind, showing that simply adding a strip of metal to each joint effectively makes the structure hurricane proof. The diagonal wooden bracing is flush with the verticals. This makes cladding easier and more flexible. In reality the cladding can be made from any available resources; sheet wood/metal, bamboo, leaves etc

We were amazed at how easy and quickly this temporary home for 5 could be erected, and really got us thinking. The shelter is only intended as a temporary solution, potentially housing a family for 3 years.
The possibilities also extend to ideas for summer shelters at home and just as easily an entire house, and show ways to simply build modular communal life.

Pictures and video from the Haiti shelter workshop are going to be made into a PDF and publisised on the internet as an educational resource for survivors in Haiti. Hopefully it will be picked up quickly enough to make a difference on the ground before hurricane season begins.

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