Singapore and Paris-based architects WY-TO have teamed up with POD to design an innovative disaster relief solution for the tricky tropical climate of Southeast Asia. The proposed shelter is ecological, easily transported, easily built, safe and economical. It is called Living Shelter,  and it will be on show to the general public at this year’s Venice Biennale 2016.

Southeast Asia is a beautiful part of the world, home to some wonderful people, exotic tropical natural wonders, and a rich inspiring culture. Unfortunately, it is also a hotspot for natural disasters. A staggering 42.9% of the global natural disasters we experience today occur in the Southeast Asian region. Coupled with the harsh climate conditions which the tropical weather poses, finding an effective solution to how to deal with disaster relief in the region is a difficult challenge. WY-TO have stepped up to the challenge. Their vision is Living Shelter, an affordable, collapsible, self-sufficient unit that is easy to ship, build and safe.

Architect Yann Follain, director and co-founder of WY-TO, describes Living Shelter concept as “an affordable capsule adapted for people living in South-East Asia suffering from natural disaster”. For us, it is much more. It is a much welcomed, realistic and feasible solution to one of the most pressing challenges which we face in today’s increasingly unpredictable environment; providing a safe post-disaster plinth for survivors to rebuild their lives and continue to live rather than struggle to survive.


Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]


WY-TO have produced a pod which has four key areas of strength.

Simplicity: Living Shelter’s simplicity is one of its main strengths. In a time of need, over-complex designs might look nice, but are often more of a hindrance than an advantage. Living Shelter is designed to be as essential as possible without disregarding safety and comfort for the inhabitants… not an easy task to achieve, but one that WY-TO seem to have cracked.

Versatility: The design’s simplicity makes it highly versatile, yet another key trait for disaster relief architecture. Due to its design, the Living shelter does not require an even ground to sit on. It also does not require power to erect or run, as it is self-sustainable in nature. These add to the pod’s versatility, allowing it to be placed virtually anywhere it is needed to be placed and cater for a whole series of natural disaster types.

Affordability: Living Shelter is cheap to build and cheap to run. Added bonus, because this makes it an attractive investment for producers, which translates to an even more attractive alternative to replace existing shelters models.

Transportability: For survivors of disasters, the first hours following the cataclysm are the scariest and most vulnerable moments. Living Shelter addresses this. The pod is a lightweight, flat-packed (227cm high, 285cm long, and 42.7cm wide) module which is then folded out into its final shape without the use of heavy tools in less than an hour. This makes it extremely transportable. Large quantities can be shipped to disaster areas. Within a few hours of arriving on site the shelters can be up and running, creating quasi-instant relief camps for survivors literally hours after the disaster.

Together, these values make Living Shelter highly effective and strong, feasible alternative to current disaster relief models. In addition, the shelter explores new composite materials and the latest technology in construction, such as 3D printing.


Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]


It was important for the architects to create a design which responded to the challenging  tropical weather of the Southeast Asian region. High levels of humidity meant that natural ventilation became a key concern in order to achieve ideal thermal confer for the Shelter’s inhabitants. The solution was to base the design on the traditional Kampung house, a vernacular model typical of the region.


Living Shelter draws inspiration from the vernacular Southeast Asian architecture. [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter draws inspiration from the vernacular Southeast Asian architecture. [Source: WY-TO]

Inside, the pod is designed to transform itself to follow functions. During the daytime, the shelter becomes a flexible living area. At night, the pod transforms into sleeping shelter for a comfortable and safe sleep.


Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]

Aside from the ingenious design, WY-TO’s Living Shelter comes equipped with innovative technology. Self-sufficiency in a time of crisis is paramount, as it is more likely that buildings might not have access to water and energy sources. For this reason, the architects have incorporated energy production and water management features directly into the Living Shelter design. This guarantees that even the most basic needs of people are still catered virtually uninterrupted even post-disaster.


Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]
Living Shelter by WY-TO [Source: WY-TO]


We are huge fans of this design by WY-TO. It would be great to see these shelters in action as the port of call for future post-disaster relief in the Southeast Asian region. Check out the video below for more information.



Interested in experiencing the Living Shelter in person?
A prototype of the Living Shelter will be displayed at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2016’s as part of the ‘Time-space-existence’ Exhibition in Palazzo Mora (Venice), running from May to November 2016. During the exhibition, you will get a chance to see for yourself the various configurations of the shelter, and understand how it can be easily adapted to meet the specific needs of different communities which the Living Shelter is designed to support. In addition to the shelter itself, visitors will be able to get a panoramic of Southeast Asia’s needs.

Want to help get Living Shelter in disaster struck areas of the world?
Well, you are in luck! Living Shelter is currently undergoing a crowdfunding campaign with IndieGoGo. Click here to help support the project!

Become a groupie!
You can follow and like this exciting project on it’s dedicated Facebook page.