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Structure Shelter Pilot with Better Shelter

Delhi, Dehradun, Kerala, 2020

SEEDS partnered with Better Shelter to work on  the Research and Development pilot program called Structure from August to October in 2020. The scope of the pilot programme was to develop and evaluate a safe, reliable, modular and low-cost shelter at a price point significantly below a tent –a structure that can be supplied rapidly and at scale. Initially it can be clad with plastic sheeting, and later upgraded with local materials, and thereby foster development through integration in local and incremental shelter programs.

I worked as part of the team prototyping Structure in Delhi to be further implemented as a pilot in Kerala and Dehradun, sheltering dispaced families and communities. We experimented with timber and bamboo as the skin after using tarpaulin. Through frequent updates and ideating, troubleshooting, reporting and video assembly courses we managed to work effectively despite challenges due to travel restrictions in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

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Structure employs the modular frame of the Better Shelter and can be transformed into an emergency shelter by draping it in standard-sized tarpaulin sheets. It can be made more durable by covering the frame in locally available material. The tools needed to build the shelter are easy to use without the need for any skilled training, making it possible for homeowners and users to build the shelter on their own.  

Learnings from the prototyping process:

  • The fixing details could be more intuitive and joints could be designed simpler.

  • The process of fixing the tarpaulin onto the frame with the puncturing tool, washer, screw, clamp, and wing nut is time taking and cumbersome.

  • The tarpaulin available in local markets doesn't have reinforcing bands to guide and would make the building process even longer.