[an error occurred while processing this directive] George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight | A Better Shelter? Tiny, Portable Homes That Go Up In One Day


Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2

New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

Need more Strombo Show? Head over to our page on CBC Music for new episodes, playlists and video extras.

CBC Music Past Shows



A Better Shelter? Tiny, Portable Homes That Go Up In One Day
March 29, 2013
submit to reddit

It's easy to take for granted having a roof over your head and a place to call home.

But for many people around the world, a safe, dry, sanitary and humane place to live is only a dream.

That's the problem that Abod, a lightweight shelter designed by a team of architects in Des Moines, Iowa, is intended to solve.

The Abod (it's pronounced "abode") is made mostly out of corrugated metal, and it's simple enough that it can be assembled by four people in a day.


As well as the corrugated metal, translucent plastic panels can also be added to take advantage of natural light - useful in areas where electricity is unreliable or unavailable.

Strombodotcom spoke with Bart Witteveen, World Vision Canada's Director of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs, about the Abod, and whether his organization has used this kind of shelter in the field.

He said in an email that "World Vision has used temporary shelters in several emergency situations, including the Haitian earthquake of 2010."

You can see an example of the kind of shelters they used on the World Vision website.

World Vision's shelters in Haiti used aluminum frames that could be covered with tarpaulins or canvas, and incorporate other local building materials.

The Abod, on the other hand, ships with all its building materials. But that doesn't mean it's inflexible: its designers say it can be customized for different uses.

Want to use an Abod as a home? You can add a kitchen and toilet, shower or bath units, closets, or even a loft expansion.

And if you'd like to run a small business out of the Abod, there are "small-business walls" available.

Gutters built into the shelters direct rainwater away from the home, which improves sanitation and keeps everything dry. And the designers say a number of the shelters can be linked together to create an instant community.


The curved shape of the Abod is based on the Catenary Arch (basically, the shape that a hanging string or chain naturally falls into), a "distinctive, nature-based, engineered shape," which is "structurally sound but also aesthetically pleasing," according to the AbodShelters website.

Although the Abod features some innovative ideas, Witteveen is not convinced that importing a design from North America into underdeveloped areas is always a good idea.

"NGOs, as a group, will work with local communities and governments to discuss shelter and other needs and determine if local solutions offer the best response, or whether ideas can be used from other parts of the world," Witteveen told us via email. "As an organization, our preference would be to look at ways to adapt designs for shelters to meet the needs of a specific community, but the structures should be built and manufactured in-country, rather than being shipped in from the outside."


So far, one Abod community has been built as a test in Johannesburg, South Africa. BSB Design, the company behind it, hopes to mass produce the concept to bring costs down, and distribute it around the world.

For more info about the Abod - and profiles of some similar shelters that are being developed - check out this story from the New York Times.

Via Inhabitat


Tight Quarters: The World's Thinnest House Opens In Poland

This Tiny House Has Stood On A Rock In The Middle Of A River For 45 Years

Teen Builds His Own Tiny Home So He Can Move Out Of His Parents' House


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.