Innovative architect and organiser of the Emergency Shelter Exhibitions Jun Sakaguchi, who was touched by the Japanese earthquake in 2011, has challenged the architectural community to increase its focus on emergency shelter design.

At the recent 3x3x3 Design Challenge held at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Sakaguchi showcased his emergency shelter featuring exterior cladding made from Zincalume steel by BlueScope Steel .

Joining forces with socially responsible designers, the Powerhouse Museum aimed to solve some of society’s most pressing problems.

Three design teams focusing on three specific areas – health, safety and community – displayed their 3 x 3 x 3 metre spaces, where visitors were invited to interact with the design solutions.

The safety-emergency shelter team consisted of Sakaguchi and Jeremy Bishop, with support from Nettletontribe Architects, L U Simon Builders and Redwood Projects.

Each of the structures were designed to provide temporary housing in post-disaster environments using only materials that could be found on hand in such a situation. They also highlighted awareness around the role of design and construction in the aftermath of natural disasters.

For the prototype, Sakaguchi chose Zincalume steel to create the structure’s external shell, as it is robust, yet flexible enough to create a unique shape.

“The organic shape of the shelter comes from the combined functions of people's movements which are 'stand', 'sit' and 'sleep'. Its shape is sympathetic to the Australian landscape while providing a soft look to the otherwise stark appearance of a disaster area," Sakaguchi says.

"Inside, the shelter is warm and friendly, with its mesh wall on one side that people can personalise by decorating with flowers and photos.”

More than 200 people who visited the Powerhouse Museum exhibition wrote wishes on origami papers and tied them to the mesh.

"There are also bottles on one side of the sleeping area to give privacy, while the bottles permeate light gently to the inside,” he says.

Zincalume steel was chosen because it is lightweight, strong, durable and often readily available in regions affected by natural disaster, Sakaguchi says.

Material for the prototype was donated by BlueScope Steel, who were keen to support such initiatives, says Manu Siitonen, BlueScope market manager – commercial and industrial.

"Given the recent floods, bushfires and cyclones in Australia that have caused great losses, the discussion around how to respond to the physical needs of disaster relief is highly relevant to the Australian design community,” he says.