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Whether in post-disaster, post-conflict or general conditions of impoverishment, shelter is one of the most basic human needs. That said, determining data requirements can be daunting. Each environment requires a combination of shelter options to provide housing that serves multiple functions, including protection from the weather and other natural elements, provisions for varying numbers of residents and other context-specific needs based on the length of time the shelter is needed, transportability, energy efficiency, etc.

Meeting such environment and usage-specific shelter needs in rapid response and emergency situations can be difficult tasks especially in complex operations involving diverse military and civilian providers of aid and security. To encourage an effective mix of shelter solutions in post-disaster, post-conflict and impoverished conditions, STAR-TIDES is compiling information about technologies and infrastructures that may be used in various circumstances, and providing introductions to other information sources.


  • Architecture for Humanity ( is a nonprofit design services firm founded in 1999. Architecture for Humanity provides a range of design and construction administration services to partners and clients through a global network of design, development and construction professionals with local expertise and knowledge.
  • Shelter Centre ( is an international nonprofit organization devoted to the provision of resources and information regarding sustainable emergency shelter needs around the world. It supports the humanitarian community in its efforts to provide aid in post-conflict and post-disaster situations. To view the full database of providers, a free login/password is required. The website also has a listing of timely news and events regarding humanitarian shelter provision.
  • The Sphere Project ( is a good resource that offers common standards used by the international community when providing support to disaster victims, refugees, and other displaced populations. Shelter is considered to be a “basic requirement” for sustaining the lives and dignity of stressed populations. Sphere provides detailed standards for shelter development within the humanitarian relief and assistance arena. TIDES highly recommends that those involved in such operations become familiar with the Sphere Standards available at the above link.


The following is a list of other resources that provide helpful information about shelters:

Hexayurt Project

A long-term shelter option requiring limited resources and buildable by hand in post-conflict or post-disaster situations. The Hexayurt is an open-source design and can be made with a variety of components.

Builders Without Borders

International network of ecological builders who advocate the use of straw, earth and other local, affordable materials in construction.

Natural Building Network

Non-profit association promoting natural building principles, materials and practitioners worldwide.

Humanitarian Bamboo

Project which aims to educate aid workers about bamboo construction. use-of-bamboo-in-Indonesia

Emergency Items Catalogue, ICRC 2009

The catalogue aims to standardize the selection and procurement of relief items during emergency situations.

Oxfam and IFRC’s Plastic Sheeting Field Guide

To educate aid workers about the use of plastic sheeting in emergencies.

UNHCR Handbook for Emergencies (see page 221)

Stresses the importance of pre-emergency planning as well as planning throughout a crisis.

United Nations Tent manual

Guide to the use and logistics of family tents during humanitarian assistance.


Each link will lead you to a new page that lists shelter solutions under these broad categories. (Note: TIDES does not endorse any specific products or stores, nor are we responsible for the content on the links.)

Equipment Providers

  • Inflatable
  • Local materials (Sustainable/Renewable Buildings)
  • Rigid Structures
  • Tents
  • Tarps

Planning factors common to all shelter solutions are:

  • Climate conditions-Can it withstand hot, cold, wet, dry climates? To what limits of heat, cold, wind, rain, snow, etc. is it certified?
  • How long can it last under ultra violet (UV) exposure?
  • Can it be reassembled, mosquito netted, lined, etc?
  • Insulation- Is it UV treated? Is it resistant to wind, rain, insects?
  • Are materials reusable?
  • Operator training/difficulty of upkeep
  • Maintenance (man hours/day)
  • Is it cost effective?
  • Is it easy to assemble/Does it require specialized tools?
  • What is the shape and size?
  • Transportability: Can it be moved or dismantled easily?


List of Inflatable shelter providers:


J B Roche


Southern Inflatables


List of local material providers:

California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture

Earthbag Building

Hesco Bastion Ltd

Natural Building Network

OK OK OK Productions:




List of rigid structure providers:

World Shelters

3S Scandinavian Shelter System


Corimec Italiana SPA


Exup, Inc.

Triangular Integrated Structures

Koma Modular Construction



Octagon Europe Ltd

Profil Montage

Quick Quarters


Sintex Industries


TPI Housing AB


Universal Building Solutions

Veldeman Group

Kwikspace Modular Buildings Ltd.

Dynamic Shells

Perfect Shelters


O.B. Wiik AS



CAMSS Shelters- Portable Shelters



List of tent providers:

World Shelters

Alaska Structures

J B Roche

Ably Shelters


Pacific Domes

Shelter Systems


Element Domes


Hesco Bastion Ltd

Rubb Building Systems

Al Farooq Enterprise

Albion Canvas


Amrit Sales Corporation

Atara Corporation

Celina Tent

Chancel Internationa

City Textiles (PVT)


Fra Angelico ltd

Giulio Barbieri


Lamifab Industries

Mahavira Tents

National Tent House

O.R.T. Scientific Industrial Firm

Paramount Tarpaulin Industries

Pavel Šmic- Condor



Saeed Textile

SG Textiles


Worldwide Shelters


Design Shelter, Inc.


O.B. Wiik AS


HousAll Systems

Creative Tent International


List of tarp providers:


SG Textiles


Paramount Tarpaulin Industries

O.B. Wiik AS

Lamifab Industries


Shelter Systems

Al Farooq Enterprise

Albion Canvas

Arun Manufacturing

Atara Corporation

Chancel International

City Textiles (PVT)


Containex {CTX}: Office Cabin

- cut from shipping-container material; robust construction guaranteed by a massive steel frame
- roughly half the size of a full shipping container
- easily interchangeable wall panels with galvanized steel skins provide for long-lasting appearance
- high-quality heat and sound insulation
- double-gazed PVC windows with integrated roller shutters
- external dimensions match the ISO standard and can therefore be transported easily
- operable in all temperatures, water resistant
- attached floor & double walls


Blu-Med Response Systems: Deployable Field Hospital

Inflatable tent-based medical shelter component of Alaska Structures, Inc.

- suitable for use in all environments (has internal temperature / climate control, can withstand extreme environments from -55 to +140 degrees F)
- ordering lead time: 12 hours or less to anywhere in the continental U.S.
- wind resistant up to 100mph
- water resistant
- attached floor