Mar 142013
If your house is destroyed in a disaster, you don’t want to live in a tent. The Rapid Deployment Module can be assembled in 20 minutes with no tools and will last at least 10 years.

It’s never easy setting up shelter for disaster victims–just look at the lack of safe housing in Haiti years after the country’s infamous earthquake. Tents are hardly a long-term solution, and trailers are bulky and difficult to redeploy.

A startup called Visible Good has developed a shelter–also known as a Rapid Deployment Module (RDM)–that falls in between a tent and trailer: It’s light (none of the pieces weigh more than 20 pounds), takes about 25 minutes to set up with no training, folds up, and is completely modular. The RDMs are well on its way to deployment–the Army selected Visible Good through a grant program to design an extreme weather shelter, and the company has sold 26 RDMs to BP as part of the second phase of cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico (the trailers are used by staff in ecologically sensitive areas where trailers aren’t allowed).

Visible Good was founded by architect John Rossi and Tina Newman, a former consultant. For the past two years, the company has been working on the RDM. It’s not modeled on any other shelters out there. “There are a bunch of what I would call anti-models–we did not want to be this, we did not want to be that,” says Rossi. “The reality is, there really is a gap that this little structure fits into. It’s got the hard walls and insulation of a more conventional building, and it’s compact and packs into its own floor, so you don’t lose parts, things don’t go missing, it doesn’t fall apart, and you’ve got a very neat little package that’s easy to ship and easy to set up.”

The RDM resembles a trailer more than a tent, and it does have the amenities of a sturdier structure–good insulation, hard walls, windows, and locking doors. But it’s also nimble, with adjustable feet to lift it up and away from minor flooding and vermin and a shell made out of high-strength, high-impact plastic. No tools are required for setup, and the modular 9 foot by 14 foot base unit can attach to other prototype units, including a shower unit and latrine unit. “They ultimately function like LEGO sets,” says Newman.

Visible Good’s shelter can last between 10 and 20 years, except for the roof, which needs to be switched out around the 3 to 5 year mark. A decade might seem like a long time for a shelter to stay standing, but it’s not. “Haiti just had its third year anniversary, and look at where the tsunami hit in Thailand. There are still people displaced and tents in Palestinian territories that have been there for 28 years,” says Rossi.

At the moment, Visible Good is working with the U.S military on an extreme weather version of the RDM that can withstand Antarctica as well as the desert. According to Rossi, “The military requirements are very specific and they’re very aggressive.” But the end goal of the military grant isn’t to come out with a product that can only be used internally–it’s to develop a rugged RDM that can be deployed widely.

Read more . . .

via FastCoExist – ARIEL SCHWARTZ

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