The Hexayurt

On my trip to Burning Man this year, I noticed quite a few camps utilizing the Hexayurt. A model of this affordable “refugee” shelter was also on display along with the art on the playa, and I was suprised how cool it was in the boiling heat, and how sturdy it was against the notorious Black Rock Desert winds. The inside had room for a full-size futon, some chairs and a table, as well as a few bookshelves.

Photo by cptravel

The Hexayurt, created by Vinay Gupta, is made from Thermax HD from Dow for permanent use and and with laminated hexacomb cardboard from Pregis for temporary use. The reflective material on the outside keeps out the heat. These units take a team of three people around an hour to assemble. They are assembled using a 6 inch wide, 600+ lb bidirectional filament tape, and anchored to the ground like a tent. No heavy lifting, ladders or scaffolding are required.

A Hexayurt is primarily an emergency structure which is self-contained and easily packed for transportation. They cost around $200 to $500 plus another $100 to add a utility package for water decontamination, heating and cooking, communal composting toilets and solar power.

There are three sizes available:
* Stretch Around $100 per unit, 6′ high, 72 sq ft
* 8 foot Around $200 per unit, 8′ high, 166 sq ft.
* 12 foot Around $300 per unit, 12′ high, 166 sq ft.

A Hexayurt can also be used for a temporary structure to live in while building a more permanent dwelling.

Based on work done at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Hexayurt village is intended to replace all the infrastructure which might be damaged after a major disaster such as an earthquake or flood — in other words, it is an autonomous building suitable for a family. Both the American Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Defense are planning on using the Hexayurt for refugees and military use.

Treehugger: The Hexayurt: Efficient, Emergency Shelter

The Sietch Blog: Interview with Vinay Gupta

By Christina Nellemann

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7 thoughts on “The Hexayurt”

  1. Couple of small points – firstly, you can make a hexayurt out of anything that happens to be available and appropriate. Thermax HD and hexacomb are both really nice materials, with very different costs and performance properties. I like them both very much, but there are many other options – it’s all about being able to use materials in the standard 4′ x 8′ panel size, which covers literally thousands of possible materials.

    And US DOD has no interest in using the hexayurt in military applications – when they need long term shelter they tend to use things like container housing or build barracks, and for short term use they have excellent tents with a lot of special features which only really apply in a military context. Their interest is strictly humanitarian.

    Really good article, and thank you for telling people about our work,

    Vinay Gupta
    Hexayurt Project.

  2. Thanks Mr. Gupta, for the corrections and additional information. I was much impressed with the hexayurt’s ability to block out the heat. We would love to see some additional photos.

  3. Tons of great pics from Burning Man at Flickr

    And here you can see pix from the demonstration at the Pentagon (!)

    I love those pics. Engineers Without Borders turned up and built them with the team right in the courtyard at the center of the Pentagon. I sort of knew we’d arrived then. 🙂

    What’s really cool is how many people have downloaded the designs and Just Built It. This year, more and more, I’ve been referring questions to the people on the mailing list because in many areas they know more than I do – materials availability, where to source tape particularly, issues with needing to clean surfaces in special ways, fire testing… all that came from the developer community this year far more than me. The design has gone into the wild thanks to Burning Man, and that’s really been the goal all along: people Just Build It.

    Enjoy, there are some great pictures there,



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