On a flat tract of ground at the Denver Sustainability Park, the shelter Ed Ryan has erected looks much like the yurts of Mongolian nomads.
“I like to think of it as a better yurt,” says the Colorado planner developer. He should know. He spent the last seven years developing and perfecting the circHouse, an easy-to-assemble structure that can be used for multiple purposes, especially when it comes to providing emergency relief for workers in international emergencies such as earthquakes or floods.
Ryan’s primary goal for the circHouse has been to this end: to manufacture a durable and secure shelter that can be rapidly deployed to help assist with emergency aid efforts in places like Haiti, where citizens are still recovering from a massive earthquake almost one and a half years ago, many without any kind of decent shelter.
The entire package for this structure weighs between 1,340 and 2,000 pounds, depending on how it’s configured. Ryan says it can be easily shipped and assembled by three experienced people in less than four hours. Featuring windows that can be opened and rooftop light to bring in sun for heating and greenhouse growing, the unit has been designed to stand for 20 years. This is far better than the multitude of plastic tents and shanties dotting the land in places like Haiti, and some of the countries in Africa.
Not only can the circHouse be secured, the polycarbonate and acrylic materials used in the structure are easy to disinfect. In addition, the structure is not vulnerable to termites or other insects.
“You have the ability to come up with a portable system,” says Ryan.
As for winter shelter, all panels in the unit can be insulated. Air circulates quickly in the circular unit. One customer, who owns a circHouse at an elevation of 10,000 feet in the Colorado mountains, reports that by using sunlight and a small wood stove, the unit warms up to 60 degrees within 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, even with humanitarian pricing of $7,500 a unit, the circHouse will be too expensive for massive deployment to resettle displaced families. This is an economic reality Ryan well understands. “Our highest and best use for this is to serve as a logistical facility for a relief crew,” he says.
On his website, Ryan’s CEO, Jim Frasche’, is candid in explaining the design principles behind the CircHouse: “Most of my life and professional career has been spent in some of the most demanding performance markets in the world – faraway places like Afghanistan and Indonesia – where product quality, durability, and service mean the difference between success and failure for a project or business, or a difference as to whether people live or die.”