How good design can have a role in the healing of a community has been conceptually explored by BVN Donovan Hill in their first working prototype of an emergency shelter. The design is part of the Emergency Shelter Exhibition will be on display in Federation Square, Melbourne, until May 5, 2013, and it is one of many emergency shelters created by leading Australian architecture practices. The purpose of the event is to engage architects in the development of various types of shelters that can be assembled by non-skilled labor in one day.

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BVN Donovan Hill responded to the Emergency Shelter Exhibition brief by designing a shelter that provides essential functional requirements and is also highly aspirational in its exploration of how an individual or a family experiencing a traumatic natural disaster might inhabit a shelter for a period of time and how a collection of shelters becomes a makeshift community.

“Central to our thinking has been designing a shelter that provides a sense of joy, delight and spatial experiences that are nurturing in a time of tragedy and displacement. By questioning what the internal and external qualities could be, we can design shelters that provide meaningful spaces-private space for individuals and families, enabling children to play and groups gather without it being in a central hall used by hundreds of people,” said Ms. Jane Williams, Principal, BVN Donovan Hill.

“Too often we see images in “tent cities” after a disaster, regimentally set up with row upon row of tents and other structures that don’t provide a sense of personal space, external areas for small gathering, retreat and so on,” Williams added.

“The retreat provides a safe and uplifting space, with benches that can double as beds, in which a small group could feel a sense of protection and can gather,” said Mr. Chris Barnes, Associate, BVN Donovan Hill. “The organizers of the emergency shelter exhibition are to be commended for bringing so many architects together to use their skills to contribute to practical problem solving in this innovative way.”

+ Emergency Shelter Exhibition

+ BVN Donovan Hill

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