German designers roll out weatherproof shelter pods

(Ulmer Nest)

(Ulmer Nest)

A group in Germany has come up with a novel way to provide emergency shelter to people experiencing homelessness in their city.

A six-person team in Ulm has designed wood and steel “pods” that are relatively cheap to build, waterproof and windproof, the BBC reported. The shelters, called Ulmer Nests, are in their second year of trials.

The team conceived of the idea in 2018 and tested out its first pods last winter. They’re designed to keep two people protected from the harsh weather in Ulm, a city at the edge of the Alps, although the team said that they are not meant to be alternatives to indoor shelters.

“[We] spent a good deal of time improving insulation and climate management, to be able to keep humidity and temperature at the best possible levels while operating on a limited budget of energy,” a team member said, according to BBC.

Each Ulmer Nest is powered by solar panels and outfitted with lights, an alarm system and ventilation. They have sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, smoke and carbon dioxide levels inside.

A motion sensor pings social workers so they know when a pod is being used. Workers can then offer assistance to the person using the shelter and ensure the pod is cleaned before it’s used again.

The team is looking for cities to partner with as well as investigating means to manufacture the pods on a larger scale. [BBC] — Dennis Lynch

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