Better Shelter creates housing for climate crisis refugees

Good News Notes:

“Social enterprise Better Shelter creates emergency and temporary sustainable housing for communities displaced by the climate crisis. With pilot sites for its shelters, called ‘Structure’, currently in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Rwanda, its short-term solutions provide a sustainable response to the climate crisis that has left millions homeless.

The company, based in Stockholm, Sweden, delivers modular homes in flat packages that can be speedily assembled without the need for tools or electricity. Equipped with a lockable door and a solar-powered lamp, they are created using materials local to their site, such as bamboo, timber and wattle and daub, and have the potential to be adapted by their occupiers for longer use.

‘Scalability, user participation and sustainability are the key elements we consider when designing the shelters,’ says Better Shelter managing director, Johan Karlsson. ‘With Structure, we want to provide a reliable shelter to save lives in emergencies, but as importantly, [it needs] to work as a safe and reliable base that can be upgraded to a more permanent shelter over time, by the end users themselves. We want to leave as many material and technique-related decisions as possible to local experts, and reinforce material traditions and techniques available locally.’

While the units are designed in-house, local architects from humanitarian aid partners play a crucial role in developing plans for the external cladding, considering how it can be best adapted with available local materials to suit its environment. Currently, he says, Better Shelter is working with non-profit organisation Seeds in India, for example, whose director of design Kamal Chawla and team ‘have built family shelters using local material in Kerala, and are now working on a larger project in the Delhi area’, adds Karlsson…..”

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