In 2011, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey, killing hundreds of people, destroying buildings, and leaving thousands of residents homeless. The event was particularly personal for Ankara-based design firm Designnobis, but the minds there also saw a need worldwide: They estimate that in 2013, natural disasters around the globe displaced 22 million people.

Temporary displacement due to natural disasters is a traumatic experience in and of itself, and emergency tents tend to underperform when it comes to providing proper relief for those who find themselves suddenly homeless for days or weeks at a time.

This need has led to Designnobis' “Tentative”—a shelter that’s easy to pack, transport, and build. It’s an elevated structure that stands just over 8 feet tall with 86 square feet of room for inhabitants.

"Temporary shelters are usually complex structures that require space and time to build," Hakan Gürsu, founder of Designnobis, told Fast Company. "What we intend with Tentative is to provide a smart, compact shelter that is flat pack, easy to transport, and practical to build."


Durable, weather-resistant fabric walls filled with thermal insulated perlite (a form of obsidian that's abundant in Turkey) stretch over the fiberglass shell to create the temporary shelter. The roof has water collection capabilities, and a door and window allow for natural light and easy ventilation. The floor contains recyclable, thermal-insulating composite decks, and the elevation (provided by an aluminum frame) prevents heat loss, which can be particularly devastating for the displaced. Assembly can be done with regular tools and takes less than an hour; when completed, Tentative can house two adults and two children.

Tentative is also compact when broken down, and Designnobis estimates that a typical flat-bed semi truck can transport 24 of them at a time. It’s designed to house refugees for three to four months.


For now, Tentative is in the prototype phase, and manufacturing costs could present hurdles. Designnobis hopes to produce the shelter for $2500 a piece, and are in search of a manufacturer. As Fact Company notes, IKEA is looking to produce a similar temporary shelter for $1000 a piece, so while the ins and outs are still being worked out, one thing is certain: We're one step close to providing better relief for those most in need.

[h/t FastCoDesign]