A French Engineer Invents Shelters For The Homeless That Retain Heat During Winter

By Mayukh Saha

The winter is raging outside. We can feel the chill in the air and thankfully, we have our heaters on so that we can be comfortable in our rooms. But not everyone is that lucky. There are many people who have been hit by bad luck and as a result, they are currently living without any form of shelter. Do they have to face the brunt of winter just because of ill fate? We can be sympathetic, but we cannot do much. Homelessness is a real issue and while we can give away our old blanket as a contribution, that is just not enough. If only there was a better solution…

Well, a French engineer has come with just that idea. Europe is going through a really cold phase and France has a Siberian freeze that is sweeping across it. Temperatures are likely to go below zero. The terrible weather conditions must have shocked the homeless people in France. Homeless people are becoming an issue in France and it is currently going up to about 3,000 people. But Geoffroy de Reynal, MSc in Energy Engineering, has come to their rescue. He was working as a quality manager on wind construction sites. When he heard about the terrible condition in France, he just had to use whatever technical knowledge that he had to tackle this social issue.

The result – he came up with a brilliant plan of a pop-up igloo which can easily be made erect and can fit a person easily. It is made of polyethylene foam which is covered by aluminium foil on the inside. The double layer prevents the freezing temperature from affecting its interiors, as it remains around 15° warmer than the temperature outside. He calls it ‘Iglou’. It has some other special features too – the thermal insulation inside absorbs the body heat and raises the inner temperature by 200C. It has solar lighting so that the occupants can control their own light and keep their privacy intact.

It comes not only as a protection from winter but also as a protection from the wild nights that are occurring in France recently. There has been an increase in theft and violence that is taking place at night. It makes the roads extremely scary during the nights and the homeless are the most vulnerable. Plus, they can have an intimate moment or a bit of privacy in Iglou. Now the homeless have the ability to get all the comfort that a general house provides them. They have security, proper habitable climate, and a place to share moments without being spied upon by the world. It’s an amazing two-way advantage that Geoffroy de Reynal has achieved with his design. Plus, he has made the tents compact, easily repairable, waterproof, and recyclable. If it gets dirty, you can wash it and even then it won’t get spoiled.

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At first, the testing was done with nine Iglous distributed in squats around Bordeaux. The French NGO, Médecins du Monde helped with the logistics. It resulted in a positive wave flowing among the homeless. The ones who got the Iglou did not want to leave it and the ones who did not receive it wanted one. 20 further prototypes were distributed by the association called Action Froid and now more and more homeless people are demanding this unique shelter. The designer wishes to invent thousands of Iglous by next winter. For now, the Iglou is compact due to emergency reasons but the inventor plans to make it larger and fit showers in it too. As to the funding of such a grand plan, they have gone for crowdfunding and it has been a grand success as well.

Creativity, invention, and social responsibility, Geoffroy de Reynal has combined all three attributes and received the necessary support for his work. It just goes on to show that if we try and have the right motive, humans can achieve anything, especially for a fellow human being. Kindness is beautiful!

IMAGES CREDIT: Iglou.fr

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