This Origami-Inspired Emergency Shelter Pops Open in Seconds

In disaster-relief situations, every minute matters—as does every pound and inch. Because when thousands of people have been suddenly left homeless, you can't just build new houses overnight. You can, however, set up one of these origami-like shelters in less than two minutes.

The descriptively named Compact Shelter is due to hit the market this year, and it's an ingenious solution to a challenging problem. While other disaster housing concepts are fairly elaborate to build, this approach is so simple it could actually work. Each shelter weighs about 35 pounds and comes flat-packed—and less than three inches thick!—for easy transportation. Oh, and they cost just $150 a piece.

This Origami-Inspired Emergency Shelter Pops Open in Seconds

Setting it up is as simple as unfolding it and snapping some pieces into place. The finished shelter sleeps four and includes a series of vents that can be opened or closed to control ventilation. The structures are also completely modular so they can be combined together to form larger shelters. And because they're made out of UV-stabilized polypropylene, the shelters are not only well insulated but also fully recyclable.

This Origami-Inspired Emergency Shelter Pops Open in Seconds

Believe it or not, the Compact Shelter was invented by a 24-year-old construction worker from Australia. "I used to work as a 'tradie,' building scaffolding and one morning we were drilling and it woke up a homeless man below us," Alastair Pryor told Gizmag. "It really made me think about how poor his living conditions were."

So Pryor's box started out a way to improve the outdoor shelters of homeless people. But it could find a second life as a smart solution that could improve the lives of countless victims of disasters, too. [Gizmag via PSFK]

This Origami-Inspired Emergency Shelter Pops Open in Seconds