High school students design snap-together homeless shelter

HUT is a micro-shelter designed as a low-cost, easy-to-assemble solution to homelessness.

For their high school project at Lincoln High School’s Engineering and Construction Academy in California, students Norris Palmer and Austin Ortega created a prototype of a modular and low-cost homeless shelter. The seniors built HUT (Habitable Urban Tent) to address homelessness in their community. Now, they need investors to help them develop a more advanced design for production and distribution.

The prototype model is an equilateral triangle box made up of a wooden frame, aluminium sheeting and an insulation layer in between. When conceptualising the design, Palmer and Ortega set out to create a space where homeless individuals can find privacy and a sheltered place to sleep. HUT's simple design includes a bed in a small but carpeted space with a small window.

Much thought went into making the shelter as cost-effective as possible. The triangular shape was chosen to cut back on the surface area of the structure, which subsequently lowers the amount of material used.

The students have big plans for their shelter and hope to realise the 2.0 version of HUT, which looks to be a more sophisticated design. Made out of polyethene plastic modules with a unique joining system, the micro-shelter will be just as easy to manufacture and distribute as it will be to snap together and assemble. An LED light and a compact heating and ventilation system will be added to the original shelter design.

The students also envision alternative applications for the HUT such as a shelter for developing countries or disaster relief.