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Living-transforming disaster relief shelter: a conceptual approach for sustainable post-disaster housing

Sara Ghanbarzadeh Ghomi (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Gayan Wedawatta (Department of Civil Engineering, School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Kanchana Ginige (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Bingunath Ingirige (School of Science, Engineering and Environment, University of Salford, Manchester, UK)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 22 June 2021

Issue publication date: 21 October 2021




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the performance of post-disaster housing reconstruction projects, propose the conceptual living-transforming disaster relief shelter (LTFDR-shelter) approach where temporary shelter is incrementally transformed into a more permanent dwelling by using living technologies and investigate its applicability to provide sustainable post-disaster housing following natural-hazard-induced disasters.


A questionnaire survey with 120 household recipients of three Sri Lankan post-disaster housing projects was employed to explore how the post-disaster housing projects have performed against the occupants' expectations. Furthermore, the new proposed LTFDR-shelter conceptual approach's applicability to address the existing issues found in the study was investigated.


The paper evaluates and identifies the physical and technical, and socio-economic performance issues of post-disaster housing and discusses the applicability of the proposed LTFDR-shelter conceptual approach as an efficient tool to adequately improve the identified factors integrating three phases of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction employing living technology.

Research limitations/implications

Although the study's scope was limited to the occupant view of the performance of post-disaster housing in Sri Lanka, the findings and conceptual LTFDR-shelter approach could be of particular relevance to other developing countries affected by similar disasters. Further research is recommended to investigate and develop this concept in depth.


This study lays the conceptual foundation for a new theoretical approach in post-disaster housing, which encourages more interdisciplinary collaborations and empirical investigations that potentially enhance post-disaster housing performance and facilitates the application of living technology in the built environment.



Background research was funded by a grant from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Bowen Jenkins Fund. The first author’s PhD research is funded by Northumbria University’s Research Development Fund (RDF).


Ghanbarzadeh Ghomi, S., Wedawatta, G., Ginige, K. and Ingirige, B. (2021), "Living-transforming disaster relief shelter: a conceptual approach for sustainable post-disaster housing", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 687-704.



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