Habitat Observatory

    Portable Shelter: An Innovative Emergency Shelter
  In the wake of natural catastrophes witnessed across the world such as cyclones, tsunamis, typhoons, earthquakes and floods in recent years, there is now a running need for temporary habitat development. Innovators and habitat practitioners have experimented and developed different modules of shelter. These modules take in various factors into consideration such as the usage factors in terms of efficiency, eco friendliness, accommodation and comfort, portability like storage space while transporting on a large scale to disaster prone/affected areas. Temporary shelters that are quickly deployable are a key component of the recovery process.

Design 21, a social design network in partnership with UNESCO had organised a competition on ‘Emergency Shelter Design’ taking into consideration factors like designing ease, usage, portability and weather resistivity. Out of 25 entriesone design which stood out indifferently for its light weight and design portability, was by Jonathan Kim. This design can be used in the Indian context for areas prone to cyclones, tsunamis, floods and earthquakes.

Design Details

Design Form
Cylindrical: The entire shelter is created with a biodegradable potato starch wireframe structure which automatically springs into shape from its flat compressed state. The entire shelter can be easily recompressed and rolled to a new location if the need arises.


10-15 Kg Material Used

Du Pont Tyvek. Used for its light weight, moisture repelling, water, tear, chemical resistance, flexibility, opacity and highly recyclable, resistant to blood and water borne microbes. Hence highly recommendable for flood and tsunami victims. Facility provided
First Aid Kit, Blanket, Towel and Temp Sandals made of biodegradable potato starch. The above model can be deployed immediately in disaster prone regions. It would however, require government’s intervention for procuring the product in bulk to ensure its cost effectiveness. Given its portability and convenience, various relief agencies could also use this product for emergency response. For more details please log on or
    Saiban: Incremental Developer to the Poor in Pakistan
  Since Independence, Pakistani cities have been faced with the challenge of keeping up with tremendous inflows of citizens. Boosted land values were too tempting an opportunity for investors and land grabbers to keep away. Soon, cities like Karachi and Lahore, have seen the mushrooming of kachiabadis (slums), making it a real challenge for low-income Pakistani citizens to enforce their right to live in a decent home, free from fear of eviction.

Saiban, an internationally recognized NGO, has taken up the cause of the poor, and developed the Khuda-ki-Basti model to create an affordable housing stock that grows along with its people. After being implemented in Hyderabad and Karachi, Khuda-ki-Basti 4 (KKB 4) was launched on the outskirts of Lahore in 2005 with support from Acumen Fund, who brought in a 302,500 US dollar investment. While the model is being scaled-up, it also needs to constantly adapt to the needs of customers, which vary from city to city.

The core model is rather simple. Saiban does for the poor everything a developer would do for higher income groups (and more). First, land is purchased and registered. The KKB 4 project is located 20 km away from Lahore, on a 20 acre piece of land. The land is then divided into 100 square yard plots. 5% of the land is reserved for commercial areas. 75% of the plots are sold to low-income families, while the remaining 25% are sold in the open market to cross-subsidize the whole development. The innovation comes in the sequencing of the project. Contrary to higher income developments, land is not necessarily serviced right after purchase. Instead, housing loans are offered to the customers to purchase the land. In Karachi, the cost of infrastructure provision was internalized into the loan. This means that families actually pay for infrastructures in installments, and the latter are provided incrementally. In Lahore, the Housing Building Finance Corporation, a semi-private housing finance facility of Pakistan, provided mortgages to low-income customers.

Because of relatively higher income levels in Lahore, Saiban offered plots with basic built-up homes, which includes a room, kitchen, bathroom and boundary wall. Infrastructure was also provided at an earlier stage as compared to Karachi, in accordance to customers demand. Saiban’s mission goes beyond the provision of physical infrastructure, they go hand in hand with the facilitation of social services, such as education, health care, and community participation.

To achieve its aim of curbing land speculation, Saiban also designed a strict allocation process, which ensures that land actually goes to those who need it the most. Families who wish to purchase a plot must first reside in an on-site reception area to demonstrate needs. After purchase, plots cannot be left vacant, and the families have to either start building their house or move into the one which is already provided.

Today, about 450 families live in Lahore’s Khuda Ki Basti 4, and the new community continues to grow. The model proved its viability, as Saiban was able to fully repay Acumen’s investment in 2011.

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