Once the winds die down, the ground stops shaking and the dust begins to settle, a disaster may yet get worse if critical infrastructure was destroyed during the event.

Hence the need for something ultra-portable, very lightweight and easy to assemble, like this Origami Shelter system by Doowon Suh.

Like a Bankers Box (or piece of paper pre-folded for an origami project, these slim triangle-and-rectangle composites flip and slide into new stable configurations on the fly.

These instant emergency shelters can be deployed in various configurations, partitioning indoor space or forming outdoor structures. While they may not make for long-term housing or support structures, they could be a great idea for first-responder architecture.

Sometimes, people just need a roof over their heads as quickly as possible while their environment is rebuilt around them. That’s where shelters like Suh’s come in. A lot of temporary disaster shelters are bulky, expensive to produce or take too long to erect, so the ease of transport and assembly is a big win as far as this project goes.

“Origami ZIP” was an entry into the iF World Design Guide competition, which is recognized as a symbol of design excellence around the world. Here’s the project description:

“This project is a “Temporary Shelter” which improves the living conditions of temporary evacuees of natural disasters. Origami ZIP is designed to fold and fit into an SUV. Origami zip is also designed to be effectively transported to relief sites in large shipments and 40 of them can be shipped in one cargo container.”

“If this project were used to help the evacuees in Japan, they would have been able to keep their personal privacy. If this project were used to help the evacuees in Haiti, they would have been able to escape the harsh conditions of the large tents used as temporary shelters.”