Aidex Voices

This new charity has combined skill-sets to design human-centred solutions to issues faced by families in unstable accommodation.

A safe, stable, home is the foundation to emotional and physical health. Without it, families and individuals cannot thrive. But for the world’s 68.5 million forcibly displaced, home is anything but stable. Due to the long, protracted nature of the world’s current conflicts, millions of people are caught in a grey space between emergency relief and long-term development. After the initial rush of acute emergency assistance subsides, temporary shelters designed for immediate crisis response, become long-term dwellings.

Seeing the need for better provisions and human-centred designs for these lives that were stuck in limbo, a team of architects and humanitarians recently joined forces to create a new non-profit called Every Shelter. Every Shelter utilises the power of design to help displaced communities advance from surviving to thriving.

Every Shelter does this through co-creation with NGO partners. The process begins at the field level rather than in the design studio. Working alongside partner aid organisation staff and the displaced populations they serve, Every Shelter crafts appropriate, meaningful solutions to real problems experienced by real families. Earlier this year, when a partner organisation faced privacy issues with its bamboo shelters in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Every Shelter designed an adjustable privacy curtain repurposing local materials. When another NGO in Lebanon needed to find the best way to ventilate a three-story school room, Every Shelter was able work within the partner’s constraints to design a viable solution.

One of Every Shelter’s innovations that has had the broadest impact so far is called the Emergency Floor. It is a modular flooring system specially engineered to insulate against conductive heat lost to the ground. It is lightweight and versatile enough to be easily installed in a shelter of any size or shape and provides a clean, dry surface for families to eat and sleep, and for children to crawl and play. All other factors being equal, a shelter with the Emergency Floor will stay at least 5-7°F warmer and use 19.29% less fuel to maintain the same inside temperature.

After a four-month winter with the Emergency Floor at a camp in northern Lebanon, 54% of users reported better health and 89% reported better sleep quality due to comfort and warmth. This impact is not only for the millions of people living in tents and camps, but for the even greater numbers of displaced people who wind up in urban settings, where the tiles can insulate concrete buildings often used as refuge.

Every Shelter is passionate about innovating life-dignifying solutions that help families build the foundations they need to rest, recover, and reclaim their future.

Every Shelters Emergency Floor exhibited at AidEx in Brussels last week. Visit everyshelter.org for further information.