Global Village Shelters

In 2004 the island of Grenada was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan. The hurricane caused millions of dollars of damage, decimated 85% of the housing stock and wiped out almost all of the islands main cash crop, nutmeg. With no post-disaster relief plan in place, and scant media attention, it took many months before recovery efforts began. During that time schools and clinics were set up under plastic tarps and many homes were rebuilt from debris. Many of those school and clinics were still being used when Hurricane Emily hit the island earlier this year. Although not as strong as Ivan, many houses, hospitals and schools that were under construction felt the full force of the hurricane and sustained heavy damage.

In response to this second disaster, a collaborative team, which includes Architectonica, Ferrara Design, and Grenada Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction (GR3), began raised funds to ship seventy transitional shelters to the island for use as temporary homes and rural clinics. The units, known as Global Village Shelters, are designed my Daniel and Mia Ferrara of Ferrera Design and are made from recycled corrugated cardboard impregnated to be fire retardant and laminated for water resistance. The father daughter design team behind this basic folding refuge experimented with more than 100 different configurations before arriving at an elegant, simple, cost-effective solution to providing temporary shlter. Made from laminated corrugated cardboard, the hut can be erected in less than an hour by two people using only a set of diagrams and common tools. It is designed to house a family of four comfortably. The corrugated cardboard, explains Mia Ferrara, provides strength, privacy, and just enough give to allow the units to be folded for ease of transport. Daniel Ferrara began developing prototypes of the foldin shelter in 1995. Soon afterward, tens of thousands of Tutsis began to flee Rwanda, crowding refugee camps in Burundi, Tanzania, and Zaire. Hoping to provide shelter to these refugees, Ferrara researched manufacturers to produce his design. As it turned out, only three paper companies, one of them Weyerhaeuser, had the capacity to machine corrugate laminate in sheets large enough to meet the firm’s needs. Working with Weyerhaeuser, the pair continued to refine the design and developed a coating that provided material strength and better waterproofing. The company has also adapted th design to create enclosed pit latrines to be used in emergency situations.

The locally based organization GR3, which is affiliated with St. George’s Medical School, helped distribute the units after setting up a staging area for unit assembly and making sure the units get to those most in need.

In January Nathan Crane and Kreg Norgaard, students at Montana State University’s School of Architecture, visited the sites where the shelters had been distributed to perform a post-occupancy evaluation. The students found that the shelters performed well overwall, but the roofs were often comprimised by the area’s heavy rainfall. These shelters are expected to last a least a year giving residents enought time to move from transitional to permanent homes. A full-scale version of a Global Village Shelter was on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of the Safe: Design Takes On Risk exhibition in 2005.