Much like home furnishings from a certain retailer of Swedish origin, emergency shelters should be cheap, lightweight, easy to transport, and not entirely offensive to the eye.

Alastair Pryor, a 24-year-old Aussie entrepreneur with a heart of gold, has appeared to have successfully checked all the necessary criteria for post-disaster housing off the list and then some with his Compact Shelters concept.

The tent-like structure, spacious enough to comfortably accommodate two adults and two children, starts out as a flat-pack stack of lightweight (35 pounds) polypropylene sheets. Within two minutes, the durable and UV-stabilized plastic sheets can be folded up, origami-style, into a resilient pop-up domicile. That's certainly quicker than putting together an IKEA coffee table. In the same amount of time, the four-walled structure can be collapsed and folded back into its original flat-pack form and transported to another location. And when individual shelters start to get worn-down, they can be decommissioned and fully recycled into brand new units.

The twin-walled shelters, which come complete with doors and operable air vents, are also modular — multiple units can be connected to help accommodate larger families and provide additional privacy, if required.

Although the shelters aren't the homiest things you ever did see (maybe a pop of color would help?), Pryor’s primary focus was on innovation: designing a portable emergency shelter that’s simple and inexpensive but that can also stand up to the elements while also providing a certain level of comfort and security.

Pryor was inspired to embark on the project after a personal encounter with a single homeless man. He tells the Daily News:

Whilst studying Bach of Entrepreneurship at Swinburne University, I used to work as a scaffolder, and one morning I was making a lot of noise hammering which woke up this homeless man below me. I felt for the homeless man as it was so cold, wet and windy, his living conditions would be painful during the cold harsh Melbourne winter, this was really a light bulb moment.

On that note, aside from widespread humanitarian crises such as natural and manmade disasters, these pop-up tiny houses can also "provide instant housing to anyone in need" on a more local level such as sheltering the displaced gentleman who first lead Pryor to develop the idea. They can also be used for recreational purposes like camping and creating a quick backyward getaway.

Pryor hopes to officially launch Compact Shelters later this year when they’ll be made accessible to disaster relief organizations for $150 per unit.

Via [Gizmag], [Co.Exist], [NY Daily News]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.