open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours
open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours
oct 14, 2013

open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours

open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours
all images courtesy of pieter stoutjesdijk




in response to haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, dutch architect pieter stoutjesdijk has conceived an emergency architectural shelter that can be assembled from a series of parts in a little under five hours time. made entirely from digitally fabricated components, a CNC milling machine laser-cuts the necessary pieces out of fiber board, which can be assembled together without the need for any additional materials like screws and fixtures. this allows for a cost-effective construction, as extra funds are saved by minimizing the equipment used. the open source design can be distributed worldwide in bulk as a digital file, and manufactured quickly and individually. the thesis of the project is rebirth of the industrial revolution: that mass customization, personalization and variety can replace 20th century rigidities of production.



100% CNC cut post-disaster shelter for haiti
video courtesy of pieter stoutjesdijk



each separate component has been designed with a special joinery, allowing it to perfectly fit to its neighboring piece. the framework, flooring, roof, and walls are all made from individual, interlocking sections, that link together like puzzle pieces. on both an aesthetic and functional level, the design of the habitat has been suited for the climate and conditions of haiti’s tropical temperature. an undulating roof sweeps from one side of the lofty structure to the other, providing overhanging shade for dwellers inside, as well as creating a natural system for collecting and recycling rainwater, while huge ceilings and spacious window frames allow for ventilation and air flow.



open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours
every part of the emergency shelter is made from interlocking pieces



open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours
a visualization of what the open source habitat might look like with an inhabitant inside



open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours
each section has a different kind of interlocking part



open source emergency habitat for haiti builds in five hours
a sketch indicates what the final structure would look like



  • what is the time for the cnc frees machine to cut all the pieces then? and how many kilo’s of fiber boards do you really need ? is that easy to realise in the reality with the real mesurements of the material? it looks like very homemade, but at the end, it’s a lot of material to transport (even if you plan to build it next to the CNC frees machine)…just wonder.

    sandra says:
  • This is brilliant and beauty.

    It is said to be open source.

    Where can we get the digital file ?

    thanks a lot.

    TLP says:
  • is the fiber board impregnated with a waterproofing solution? if so, it would undobtedly add to the weight concern that sandra expresses. if not, it wouldn’t last too long, eh?

    dbkii says:
  • This beats the horribly ugly IKEA flat-pack refugee shelter all to hell. Pieter has just demonstrated that simple and easily assembled architecture need not look like the shipping container it arrived in. Thanks for sticking it to IKEA; I was nauseated by their design, but this one makes me breathe easily. Why make people feel like they’re in jail simply because they suffer a disaster? ‘Delight’ is not a frivolous requirement, but one which feeds the soul.

    Paul d'Orléans says:
  • Does anyone know the name of the chairs used in the photo’s? Those are amazing cnc chairs!

    HQ says:
  • Looking for the cnc designs for use in a STEM school – Riverpoint Academy – Spokane WA

    Dan Butleer says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
504,204 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine