The relief situation in Haiti has raised some unique problems, but those problems have led us to develop new, innovative designs. Because of the very limited space available in certain areas in Haiti, World Shelters was asked by USAID to develop a two-story transitional shelter in order to provide adequate housing and make the most of the very small plots of land that many Haitians are living on. In close collaboration with Uber Shelter, we have developed a two-story transitional shelter that provides solutions to other existing shelter problems as well. Called the TShel2, this unique structure actually has three levels and creates 18 m2 of interior sleeping and living space plus 6 m2 of covered outdoor space, all on a 12 m2 footprint. By designing the shelter to be supported by engineered footings instead of a basic cement foundation, the TShel2 is securely raised above the ground to facilitate drainage, with telescoping legs that can elevate the structure even higher in times of severe flooding.
Flooding is extremely common in Haiti, and the ground drainage that the TShel2 allows, while helpful to individuals on a small scale, could have an even greater positive impact if our shelter becomes widely available. Currently when it rains in the camps, where none of the shelters are above the ground, mud and water flow under the walls, creating a living environment that is not only unpleasant but also quite possibly dangerous for the inhabitants’ health. Addressing even just this basic issue will increase safety and quality of life.
But the TShel2 has other features that will provide a better living situation in numerous ways. The shelter has a 100mph rated wind load, an important feature that will become crucial once hurricane season rolls around again. Incremental structural designs have been defined to achieve the design goal of 120mph ultimate wind load and 100mph rated wind load with a safety factor of 1.5. With most shelters in the current camps being constructed of scrap wood, metal, and plastic tarps, hurricane winds could be devastatingly destructive.
A vented roof and opening windows with mosquito screens provide enough ventilation that the temperatures inside the shelter stay reasonable, even in a tropical climate. The design of the second floor creates a shaded outdoor porch area, perfect for cooking. Every inch of the 12 square meter footprint is designed to be used effectively, however, the TShel2 is modular and can be easily adapted to add on more rooms and space to the existing structure.
With further support and the possible addition of solar panels, composting toilets, and water collection tanks, the TShel2 can provide a living space that is more than just shelter. With the safety, security, and peace of mind created by the TShel2, inhabitants can lead lives that allow them to be not simply functioning day-to-day, but also to work and grow as productive members of their community. On a large scale, such supportive productivity is going to be the key to helping Haitians rebuild their country and their lives.
All photos courtesy of the Uber Shelter blog. Please click the link to find out more!