As Michael McDaniel watched the events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was shocked by the grim living conditions of the victims. First they were herded into large stadiums with crowded facilities, and separated families holding up signs in search of each other. Later some of them were moved to temporary trailers provided by the government’s emergency service (FEMA), but there were too few of these and it took a long time to get them on site.
This spurred in McDaniel the desire to figure out a better solution – a housing apparatus that could be quickly assembled in the event of an emergency, and one that would keep families together in a safe, comfortable environment. Though almost a decade has passed since Katrina, the need for such housing continues to grow. According to the latest report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, an average of 27 million people each year are displaced by natural disasters.
After experimenting with many designs, McDaniel has developed the ‘Exo Housing System’ – a portable, secure, stackable shelter with low cost and high efficiency. While the FEMA trailers used for Hurricane Katrina cost €18,000 each for a one-time use, the 7.5 m2 Exo shelters cost one-quarter of the amount, are reusable and can be set up in under two minutes without the use of tools or machinery. Furthermore, one truckload can bring 20 of these stackable Exo shelters with the capacity to house 80 people. By contrast, the same truck can only transport two travel trailers with the space to house eight people.
Each Exo uses energy-efficient walls and skylights, contains digital door locks for safety, is insulated for climate control and is capable of connecting to electricity, heat and air conditioning. The Exo shelters can also be arranged in pods to ensure that extended families stay together. McDaniel’s company has recently started production, and is on track to build 600 units per month.