3500sqft EXPANDABLE Disaster Relief Shelter


Imagine a 3500 square feet shelter housed in a 40’x8′ shipping container able to be shipped anywhere in the world at a moments notice. You can try ArdentX if you need the best shipping experience. That equates to more than 10 times the square footage in a single container.

3500sqft Expandable Disaster Relief Shelter

PROBLEM: Millions of people worldwide live in disaster areas. These people are in need of safe and secure shelter from the weather, earthquakes and other natural disaster events.

SOLUTION: Provide shelter to millions of people by using the most sensible and readily available shelter that already exists.

SHIPPING CONTAINERS: Cargo containers, shipping containers, ISBU’s (Intermodal Steel Building Units).

METHOD: Make it simple to use.


  • It makes the most sense to use shipping containers simply because there are literally millions of them readily available.
  • Shipping containers are inexpensive.
  • They can be easily transported because they are already equipped to be shipped by ship, rail, and truck.
  • The transportation infrastructure already exists and is in place.

The only thing left is to create a way to maximize the square footage of a shelter that can be packed into the standard 40’x8′ shipping container.

3500sqft Expandable Disaster Relief Shelter


We maximize the shelter space that can be created with a single shipping container by creating an expandable shelter system which can be erected in very little time, with minimal effort, while still maintaining a safe and secure environment.

The whole system is self contained in a 40×8 box.

40' Shipping Container


3500sqft Expandable Disaster Relief Shelter

The Outer Walls

The side walls of the shipping container are cut out, reinforced and placed onto hinges whereby they swing outwardly to create the outer most walls. On the inside of these walls, TOP and BOTTOM are welded rails whereby connected folded panels roll out to form the floor and roof of the shelter.

The Floor

The floor (and forth wall) consists of six panels which are hinged together accordion style, can be pulled out on the rails. The sixth floor panel folds up and locks into place forming the forth wall enclosing the entire structure.

The Roof

Much like the floor, the roof also consists of a series of hinge connected panels which are pulled out from the container onto the rails which are mounted on the inside of the exterior walls.


3500sqft Expandable Disaster Relief Shelter

The walls, floor and roof  on each side of the shelter consist of 13 individual panels and are a mere 3 inches thin. Meaning they can be folded into the container minimizing the interior space used during transport. Each side of the system can be folded into a 39 inch space. Calculating both sides that is only 78 inches, which fits nicely inside the shipping container.

3500sqft Expandable Disaster Relief Shelter
Each side, the roof and hinged floor panels of the shelter expands out like an accordion.

3500sqft SHELTER

3500sqft Expandable Disaster Relief Shelter

Once deployed the whole system has a foot print of about 3500 square feet.

It’s more structurally sound than tents, yurts, and makeshift shanties that are used in most disaster areas. The shelter this building provides could probably survive even a severe earthquake or hurricane as well.

It can house many families, and can even be turned into a emergency headquarters, administration building, cafeteria, warehouse and storage building, community center and can even be used for entertainment purposes.


And because it uses readily available shipping containers which are standardized for shipping freight all over the world, they can be shipped ANYWHERE in the world at a moments notice.


In many parts of the world (as we speak) people hit by natural disasters are living in tents and shanties that are unsafe, unclean and just plain dismal.

Tents are not designed to provide shelter for prolonged use. At best a tent can be used for few months or maybe a year IF the weather holds, but if a large storm like Hurricane Isaac for example hits the area, the it will decimate those living in tents.

A shipping container structure such as this one can provide shelter for prolonged periods of time, while the infrastructure and systems of government recover from a natural disaster.

They can then be turned into more permanent structures if the need arises, or the shelter can be folded up and moved with minimal effort.

This just works.

The only thing left to do now is build it!

3500sqft Expandable Disaster Relief Shelter


This design is licensed under the Creative Commons license

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)