The devastating earthquake that shook Nepal in April claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, wiping out towns and leaving many survivors homeless. To give them a helping hand, a team of designers created Architecture for the Mass, an organization that distributes easy-to-use blueprints for bamboo and steel sheet shelters. They may not be beautiful, but these temporary shelters can be assembled in just a few days until a more permanent solution comes along.
Charles Lai and Takehiko Suzuki collaborated with AONA architecture studio and the One Village Focus Funds charity to deliver the design to a remote area of Nepal, where a team of four paid workers and 10 volunteers constructed the prototype. “Together with the simple connection details, unskilled workers can assemble the shelter within two to three days,” say the designers. Cost per structure is about $500, due to the ready availability of bamboo in the area and the possibility of salvaging materials from nearby fallen buildings.
The architects explain that the materials used in the design are optimal for the area, since monsoons are known to wipe out traditional mud brick homes. “Even though emergency relief materials such as tents and canvas could be flown into Nepal by cargo planes, these materials hardly reach the remote villages,” explains Lai. “As a result, many families who lost their home have built temporary shelters by themselves.” Construction of the shelters is still easy for inexperienced builders, since bamboo is a pliable and lightweight material.
The shelter prototype measures three meters by six meters and can be used for a variety of necessary structures, including clinics, nurseries, or schools. “Potentially, the design can empower the local community to establish a self-help network among themselves and speed up the recovery from the disaster,” said Lai, inspiring hope for a safer, more sustainable future.
Images via Architecture for the Mass