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Humanitarian Design Brief – Shelter for the Homeless

SEJ101 Humanitarian Design Brief
Shelter for the Homeless
Design Goal
Design a portable and carryable shelter for the homeless to be used as a temporary one-person shelter designed for short term solution to address the need to support homeless people in Melbourne.
In the recent news from The Age, the Melbourne City Council has confirmed that there is currently 247 people (rough sleepers) found in Melbourne CBD (Dow 2016). Rob Pradoli, a property developer has proposed to the Melbourne City Council to construct a ‘pop-up’ shelter to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people in an empty office building (Stayner 2016). There exists a significant and growing problem of homelessness for some people in Melbourne and especially during winter there exists a need to provide safe, dignified, and protecting shelter for them from the outside climate. Therefore, it is crucial that we design a practical low-cost and suitable form of portable temporary shelter to assist the urban homeless to address this humanitarian problem. The designed shelter needs to be able to be used in urban areas in Melbourne and there are restrictions on where such a shelter could be placed and used – refer to the Activities Local Law 2009 (Melbourne City Council 2009).
Design Specifications
The shelter should be designed to fulfil as many of the specifications listed here. Plus any other specifications that are identified in you initial research and concept design work that you consider are necessary or deserving a high priority to be fulfilled.
The lists of User and Operating Specifications and Performance Target Specifications have been provided as the starting point for all groups to develop their own set of design specifications and are provided here in no particular order of importance. It is not only possible but most likely that your group will develop and use a set of design specifications that include additional requirements and targets and possibly include altered or alternative requirements and targets to ones provided here. Make sure to explain and justify the design specifications your group uses.
User and Operating Specification
i. At least able to accommodate 1 person.
ii. Provide culturally acceptable, safe and dignified accommodation for a person considering all relevant age, religion, gender, and cultural matters.
iii. Shelter kit is able to be unpacked and shelter assembled on site by 1 adult with no specific training or skills and with no additional tools or equipment.
iv. Survive anticipated environmental loading for the intended geographic region due to climate and natural phenomena such as wind and heavy rain.
v. Provide adequate levels of natural ventilation for occupants’ comfort and health especially in warmer weather conditions.
vi. A reasonable internal floor space ratio shall be provided, i.e., 2 sq. m per person.
vii. The shelter footprint (including any stays, braces, guy ropes, etc.) should be as minimal as possible to maximise land area utilisation of shelter deployments if required.
viii. The shelter kit when deployed introduces no significant waste into the geographic region for the local communities to manage as hard waste for disposal.
ix. If possible the shelter uses locally available materials and methods to enable installation, alteration, modification, and maintenance of the shelter within the area.
x. The packed shelter kit should be reasonably rugged and able to be rapidly transported by a variety of transportation methods including civilian, non-government organisation, and government transport services incurring minimal damage or loss to the kit and its contents.
xi. The packed shelter kit should ideally be all inclusive of any required parts, components, materials, and tools necessary to assemble and prepare it for use so it can be stored, transported, and deployed as a fully self-contained ready-to-use kit. Alternatively a common single tool kit could be proposed for installing multiple shelter kits together with a corresponding proposed logistical solution to ensure that shelters are always supplied with any needed tools for deployment onsite.
Performance Target Specifications
i. Provide at least 0.5 metres internal height clearance inside the shelter for the occupant to enable ease of entry, occupancy, and exist and for at least 70% of the internal floor area.
ii. Able to be used as a shelter, and remain fully functional, continually for at least 3 months requiring at most only minor onsite repairs and maintenance work.
iii. Total mass production cost of less than AUD $100 for the complete shelter plus any ancillary items as packed and ready for storage, transportation, and use.
iv. The packed shelter kit should have a total gross weight less than 5 kg. Ideally the packed kit should be less than 2 kg so it can be easily moved, handled and carried by an adult.
v. As much of the packed shelter kit shall be recyclable, reusable, or able to be repurposed as possible within the community it is provided to. The ideal target is that there is zero waste from the shelter kit before, during, and after it has been used for its primary purpose of providing shelter for the homeless.
vi. The packed shelter kit should have a stable shelf life (long term storage) of at least 24 months from date of production before any contents require inspection or replacement.
Design Standards
The design shall aim to comply with standards and recommendations issued by two global non-government organisations: The Sphere Project and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response was developed and published by The Sphere Project in their handbook, The Sphere Handbook (2011). A copy of these
standards can be obtained by downloading The Sphere Handbook (as a PDF file) directly from The Sphere Project website at www.sphereproject.org .
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has published ‘The IFRC Shelter Kit’ and can be accessed online at:
Please read the Activities Local Law 2009 (Melbourne City Council 2009) and the restriction of the shelter in a public area published by Melbourne City Council
The Activities Local Law 2009 is available at:
< http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/activities-local-law-2009.pdf>
Information and publications from relevant local, regional, and global aid agencies, governments, philanthropic, humanitarian and other non-government organisations relevant to the area should also be sought and included.
Below are some websites from local agencies/non-government organisations/Melbourne City Council:
Design Methodology
The Whole System Design multi-phase engineering design process shall be used. For most design groups this project includes Phase 1: Needs Definition, Phase 2: Conceptual Design, and Phase 3: Preliminary Design. It is not expected that groups undertake and complete Phase 4: Detailed Design in the process for this project.
The design project is to be undertaken by design project groups throughout the trimester during Trimester Weeks 1 through 12 inclusive. A Design Proposal (assessment 1), requiring individual and group reports, will be submitted by week 7 Monday via Turnitin on the Moodle.
A short video (assessment 2) is to be prepared during Weeks 8, submission will be uploaded by week 9 Monday which at least presents and justifies the developed conceptual design and if available at the time also presents any preliminary design information developed by the group.
The final design report (assessment 3), which includes the preliminary design and any of the detailed design if developed and available, is to be completed and submitted by the design group by week 13 Monday.

Assignment 1 (individual part)

There are two parts to this assessment task (1) individual design brief and (2) group project proposal. Students are required to submit individual design briefs of approximately 2000 words with appropriate references to source material through turnitin dropbox on the Moodle. The design brief could include drawings, sketches, images, photos, and reflections. The design brief must address:  Investigation and research conducted  Identification and definition of a problem  Review of a variety of information that addresses the needs of the client and user (Individually assessed)

Assignment 1 (group part)

Individual design: name of design

Fully describe the individual conceptual design developed here as a potential solution to address your Needs Definition. Include any relevant sketches, diagrams, calculations, etc.

Remember that the visual presentation of information in design is an extremely effective communication method. Consider and apply the methods and techniques you studied or are studying in CAD. (sketches are very important)

Don’t be afraid to include some of the more “fanciful” options your group developed. Even if your group decided not to select them for further design effort to make them preliminary designs there may still be potential in them (even if your group cannot identify it).

A good set of conceptual designs (in number and in quality of documentation for each) also clearly communicates that your group was thorough in this design phase and sought to identify all possible options to solve the problem(s).


If only one or two conceptual designs is presented then it can convey a message that the preliminary and/or final design was developed from the first thing that the designer(s) conceived as a possible solution. As you would expect this can convey a message that the designed and proposed solution is the result of a “bare minimum” of effort and is unlikely to be high quality or outstanding.

Sometimes there are only a few conceptual designs worth considering and documenting – and in this case you need to be aware of this issue and so make sure that a smaller set of conceptual designs is more than adequately documented and presented so that there is no doubt that the design process has been thorough and the result of considerable effort.

Group rubric:


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