There is no "one size fits all" solution to disaster relief housing, bbut there is a common set of criteria - it must be sturdy, reliable and economical to build. One tactic for less expensive housing solutions is prefabricated and flat-pack shelters that come together quickly with minimal tools or skill required. Two graduate students at the University of South Florida, Jason Ross and Sean Verdecia, have designed the AbleNook, which is a prefab living module that could be used for either housing, classrooms or even flexible office spaces. Parts for the modular shelter are flat-packed, shipped and assembled in a snap.
AbleNook’s design is based on identical and universal aluminum structural insulated panels (SIPs) that clip together without the use of any tools. The main structural members, like the floor joists and wall columns, are also identical, extruded from aluminum and can run electrical conduit through them. This universal plug-and-play assembly system allows for economies of scale during fabrication, efficient shipping and easy assembly upon arrival.
The design itself is a narrow room with an arched roof covered in solar panels that collects rainwater on both ends and directs it into a collection tank at the back of the house. Units can be single or double-wide depending on the need and can include multiple bedrooms, kitchen, work space, storage and bathroom. Adjustable footing foundations allow the unit to be placed on uneven surfaces so they can be deployed anywhere.
Ross and Verdecia originally envisioned the AbleNook for disaster relief housing, but also foresee it to be used for prefab housing, modular classrooms, flex office space or even military applications. SIP panel construction provides structural stability along with insulation and the durable connections and materials mean it could be reused multiple times. The University of South Florida is assisting the duo with research backing and the patent process.
Thanks for the tip Engadget!