When natural or man-made catastrophic disasters hit, it can be difficult to find long-term housing solutions for the victims of these events. Architects For Society (AFS) designs building solutions that target these populations, and their Hex House is a brilliant affordable shelter that can be rapidly deployed to provide a dignified, comfortable space that feels anything but temporary.“As a group of allied professionals from the US, Europe and the Middle East, AFS is a non-profit design practice with a mission to enhance the built environment of disadvantaged communities through innovative architecture and design,” says AFS. The Hex House is a result of that goal.
The Hex House was designed to be affordable, sustainable and easily deployed. But what sets it apart from other emergency shelters is that it was also designed for long-term housing, so it feels and looks more like a permanent structure. The Hex House prototype, which is based on the insulated metal panel technology that’s widely used in emergency shelter construction, is shipped in pieces and assembled by the end users. According to AFS, “the basic building components are galvanized tube steel for the base, structural insulated metal panel for walls, floor and roof and can be customizes with conventional interior and exterior finishes.”
The hexagonal form has inherent stability that means the interior needs no added structural support. The wall and roof panels are self-supporting and lock with integral tongue & groove joints to form a rigid structural shell. Units can be arranged next to one another or even joined to share walls for enhanced thermal performance. They can also be combined to form larger units.
Rain water is collected through a gutter with downspout that filters the water into a storage tank, which can then be used by manually pumping the water back into the house. There is also refillable potable storage for additional water supply, also accessed with a pump. Ventilation is provided on two sides of the home, which can be situated to align with wind patterns to provide cooling. Wind is diverted through baffles and out of registers into the space. Power is provided by solar panels.
“The interior spaces are designed with all the modern conveniences and are finished with simple, functional and elegant finishes. Gypsum walls, bamboo plank floors, ceramic tile bathroom floors, bamboo kitchen cabinets and solid surface kitchen counter,” says AFS. The simple construction method of the Hex House means that anyone can put it together, even in a disaster situation, using simple tools. All the parts of the home are designed to be flat-packed and shipped, and the average trailer can accommodate three units.
“The Hex House is designed to be a scalable solution which is not only rapidly deployed and erected by unskilled builders but is also dignified with typical home amenities. The house is designed for displaced population such as refugees, natural/ manmade deserter emergency shelters and off the grid living. With passive and low tech features and durability of exterior shell and base, it can endure extended occupancy form 15 to 20 years. Most of all the flexibility of the system affords the end user the ability to personalize their living spaces both inside and out,” says AFS.