May 2005Refugee Housing

The SHRIMP (Sustainable Housing for Refugees via Mass Production) is an attempt to bring housing and other relief to large displaced or homeless populations, especially those who have suffered in a natural disaster. Providing shelter to a family of four, it folds up into 1/4 of a shipping container for efficient deployment. (cross sectional model pictured above)

Massive Deployment

Taking cues from IKEA's flat-packing furniture, this shelter starts its life as a 10' x 9.5' x 8' box, or exactly 1/4 of a "hi-cube" shipping container. Because of this standard size and self-contained design, the SHRIMP can be dispatched in extreme quantity; Maersk container ships, for example, can hold 6,400 containers. That equates to housing for roughly 100,000 people, on a single ship. Need medical or administrative centers, or even schools? Every 100th or 1000th SHRIMP can be a specialized unit, creating a complete mobile community. And using the solar distillery on the SHRIMP's roof, fresh water needs are significantly reduced.

Pack It Up

The SHRIMP has pontoons which automatically inflate, using compressed air canisters - assembly takes minutes, not hours. Because many container ships have cranes, this eliminates the need for docking infrastructure - units can be unloaded anywhere there's water. As standard-sized shipping containers, the SHRIMP can also easily be trucked across land. In addition, the simple wooden interior is modifiable with tools available in most places, allowing units to be customized or even converted into more permanent homes.

Sustainable Living

SHRIMP units can be refitted for reuse, and use sustainably farmed wood (see Forest Stewardship Council). They can also be retrofitted out of shipping containers, which are piling up in the US: "It costs $2,000 to ship an empty container back to its source, he said, but China can build new ones for $1,200," writes the Virginian Pilot. The SHRIMP draws upon that waste stream, providing both humanitarian aid and waste management.