Housing innovation set to revolutionise shelter for elderly

LONDON: A “foldable” portable house being proposed for a potential quarantine hub is designed to quickly provide emergency accommodation wherever it is needed.

Innovative Geelong prefabrication company FormFlow is pitching the tiny house as the State Government considers Avalon Airport as the site for a COVID-19 quarantine facility.

FormFlow managing director Matt Dingle said the fully self-contained emergency shelter was designed to provide a comfortable place for people who had been displaced that could be quickly erected off the grid.

“It would not only be a good option as a quarantine facility, but should it be needed for another application, like if there is a fire or a flood, they can be easily folded up,” Dr Dingle said.

Known as Prefab21: Phoenix Response House, the project has been developed by FormFlow with academics and students at Deakin University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment.

Using new prefabrication technologies developed by FormFlow, which has a patent on its ability to bend corrugated steel, the tiny house includes a living space, bedroom, and a bathroom in a space measuring just 4m by 10m.

Steel-framed with corrugated sheet on the outside and plywood inside, the tiny house has a composting toilet and can be powered by solar if needed so it can be deployed anywhere.

“It’s a foldable house, and when it is all folded up it is only 2.5m wide,” Dr Dingle said.

“It can be towed behind a car on the road in the same way a caravan can.

“All the cabinetry is hidden within it. When you unfold it, you can assemble a kitchen and a dining table and a bed, and all the other bits and pieces you need.”

Dr Dingle said four or five of the houses could be transported on a single semi-trailer.

Airport boss Justin Giddings said he was impressed by the project and the house’s potential uses.

“I would be very happy staying in one of those places for two weeks in quarantine,” Mr Giddings said.

But he said the airport was having no influence on the type of accommodation that would be erected if it was chosen as the site for a quarantine hub.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said the most project had enormous potential.

“We believe there is real opportunity to use the shelters not only for housing after bushfire and other natural disasters, but also for other long-term temporary housing situations,” Pro. Martin said.

The Prefab21: Phoenix Response House follows the original Prefab21 project that saw the project team design and fabricate a prototype Independent Living Unit for Samaritan House Geelong.

The state government is weighing up 10 sites on which to house a facility for a hub that would relocate COVID-19 quarantine out of hotels and into purpose-built facility.