Designed with and for refugees

Modular post emergency and transitional shelters adaptable to your needs and safe for the people you serve.

Deploy: Syria

The Relief Housing Unit (RHUs) can be assembled in a matter of hours with an assembly crew of 4-5 people. In Northwest Syria, our partners, Watan Foundation assembled 140 units in one single day, to ensure the speedy deployment of dignified shelters to displaced communities in need.
Photo: © Watan Foundation

Deploy: Brazil

For large-scale implementation, it is customary for assembly teams to specialize in the construction of roofs, walls and ground frame. This happened in 2018 in Brazil as the transit and reception centres set up by UNHCR and implementing partners in Brazil to respond adequately to the influx of Venezuelan migrants into the country. It is estimated that 440 RHUs were assembled in 14 days in different centres in Boa Vista and Pacaraima, Brazil.

Photo: ©UNHCR/Reynesson Damasceno

Upgrade: Syria

Our partners, Ataa Relief, responsible for managing a displacement camp in Jarablus, installed 182 RHUs to serve as temporary shelters for displaced families. As the families move into the RHUs, they began to add their personal tastes and preferences to their shelter. In many shelters, beneficiaries have chosen to add plants to the shelter and in their surroundings, as a form of providing shade, protecting against the rain and providing more privacy.
Photo: ©Ataa Relief

Upgrade: Brazil

The northern region of Brazil, where most Venezuelan migrants are crossing into is known for its humid weather and high temperatures. Due to this, and to provide the most comfortable shelter, UNHCR and implementing partners in Brazil, have attached extra windows and ventilation openings to the RHU.
Photo: ©Fraternity – Humanitarian Missions International

Upgrade: Ecuador

RHUs were assembled by UNHCR and local organizations throughout Ecuador in support of the country’s efforts to provide COVID-19 relief to its population. Many RHUs were assembled as hospital extensions or field hospitals to provide health and clinical services to the local communities. For the first time, RHUs were assembled together to create a larger unit, with a higher ceiling, enabling the realization of a field hospital within the RHU.
Photo: © UNHCR/Illaria Rapido Ragozzino

Upcycle: A future opportunity

We believe the RHUs will be used throughout the duration of displacement and beyond, enabling displaced families to repurpose the shelter and its parts for the benefit of their permanent home. We look forward to celebrating the world of our partners and beneficiaries in upcycling the RHUs into another structure that supports their recovery.

Covid-19 response

Epidemics and pandemics put pressure on national and global health care systems. Rapid response to these requires solutions for unforeseen needs and care for a large number of patients.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Better Shelter has been providing structures that serve as

  • information hubs
  • mobile quarantine wards
  • test centres
  • vaccination posts
  • offices for health care workers

In 2020, we shipped out almost 3,000 units for use in covid-19 response efforts in 22 countries.

For inquiries, contact our Partnerships Manager Lucia Arias Kapetinic

Product alterations

The modular design of the Relief Housing Unit (RHU) enables alterations in size and layout: sections can be added and removed to create different sized facilities. Vertical walls and a high ceiling allow space for medical equipment, beds, consultation rooms and office space.

  • Modular design enables set up of shorter and longer units.
  • Longer units can have multiple doors and layout designs.
  • Units can be placed next to each other and thereby used as separate rooms.
  • Windows can be open or shut.
  • Lockable door can be placed on all sides.
  • Multiple doors can be added to each unit.
  • Interior can be adapted with panels or with textile room divider.
  • The vertical walls and high ceiling allow space for beds, tables, shelves and medical equipment.
  • Better Shelter can assist in layout options and designs.

To learn more about how you can adapt the RHU to you requirements, get in touch with our product and support team today.

How we can support

We offer support before, during and after project implementation


  • Project planning
  • Layout design
  • Modularity options
  • Logistic support
  • Research and Development


  • Assembly training
  • Installation support
  • Implementation support and supervision
  • Technical support
  • Product expertise

Follow up and support

  • Maintenance and partner support
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Communications support

To learn more about how Better Shelter can support in your project, get in touch with our product and support team today.


Partner UNHCR

Location Maicao and Cúcuta, Colombia

Number of units 55

Application COVID-19 health facility


Partner UNHCR

Location Boa Vista, Brazil

Number of units 200

Application COVID-19 health facility


Partner UNHCR

Location Niamey, Niger

Number of units 50

Application COVID-19 health facility


Partner UNHCR

Location Azraq camp, Jordan

Number of units 15

Application COVID-19 health facility


Partner UNHCR

Location Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, Pakistan

Number of units 14

Application COVID-19 health facility


Partner Maram Foundation and The Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM)

Location Idlib

Number of units 52

Application COVID-19 health facility

More information

Health Infrastructure

Protecting the rights to Home, Health and Education


Together with local and global partners we not only offer shelter for families to live safely in. We also deploy structures that serve as community buildings and classrooms to facilitate education and development for schoolchildren in displacement. Medical NGOs save lives and reduce suffering by offering vital care in thousands of our structures.

Where we work


A humanitarian shelter is a critical survival mechanism that, albeit temporary, should offer protection, safety and dignity until a permanent home in peace becomes available. It should be a secure a space where families can be together and cope with the trauma of displacement, as well as a foundation for physical and mental healing, for education, livelihood and protection. 

Projects include:

  • SYRIA, Various partners: 6,500 family shelters for IDPs in the Northwestern region
  • SENEGAL, UNOPS: shelter for 376 families displaced by coastal erosion

All projects



Epidemics and pandemics put pressure on national and global health care systems and rapid response to these requires solutions for unforeseen needs and care for large number of patients. ​​The required infrastructure includes screening centres of suspected carriers, mobile quarantine facilities for infected patients, storage and office space as well as information centres.

Projects include:

  • BURUNDI, UNHCR: Ebola Health and quarantine centres
  • MEXICO, Global Response Management: OB/GYN, private exam room and pharmacy
  • BANGLADESH, HAEFA USA: Primary healthcare clinics

All projects


Education builds knowledge and helps to protect children and young people in displacement. It saves lives, sustains communities and strengthens resilience.

Projects include:

  • INDONESIA, World Vision and IKEA: 180 children affected by the earthquake in Lombok now play and learn in a centre designed with their specific needs in mind.
  • BANGLADESH, Coders Trust and UNDP: 360 IT students trained in RHUs
  • IRAQ, Terre des Hommes: 150,000 students gain better access to education and build a brighter future in RHUs across the country.

All projects

More information




  • Assembly  with a team of 4 in 5-6 hours for emergency shelter deployment
  • Worldwide logistics from warehouses in Poland, Turkey and Panama.
  • All necessary components and tools are included in 2 flat-pack boxes.
  • Designed for distribution, airlifting, container transport and last-mile delivery carried by hand.
  • Real-time and remote support and guidance allow quick and effective deployment.



  • A modular shelter that can be upgraded over time to adapt to cultural and climatic needs.
  • Fit for numerous applications; tested and proven for shelter, health, education, communal infrastructure and more.
  • The RHUs can be disassembled, moved and reassembled for other usages.



  • A dignified temporary solution that can kickstart recovery efforts enabling repurpose of materials.
  • Designed to meet the needs for the activities of basic living, for privacy, safety and familiarity.
  • Includes a lockable door, rigid steel frame, opaque walls and a portable solar-powered lamp.
  • Freestanding height shelter and includes 9 airflow openings, to ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Tested and approved regarding protection against heavy rain, wind and sun, as well as vector ingress.

Features and Dimensions

  • 17.5 m2
  • Lockable door
  • 4 windows & 4 ventilations
  • Semi-rigid and opaque plastic roof and wall panels
  • Steel frame mounted with ground anchors
  • Solar powered
  • Portable lamp
  • Flat-packed
  • 160 kg
  • 3 year shelf life
  • 36 months lifespan
  • Assembled by a team of four in 5–6 hours without additional tools
  • Developed according to the Sphere minimum standards


Wind 28m/s or 101km/h wind resistance

Rain resistant: passes artificial rain test with no leakage.

Fire and flammability protection: fire retardant materials allow for minimum 2-minute escape time.

Temperature  5-40°C temperature range


Roof and wall: polyolefin foam panels treated with UV protection

Frame and foundation: lightweight galvanized steel

Door and door frame: UV stabilised polymer plastic

Window and ventilation frames and hatches: UV and heat resistant polymer plastic

Smaller components: polymer plastic

Floor sheet: woven high-density polyethylene fibres

Assembly tools: Steel




The Relief Housing Unit (RHU) does not contain any REACH SVHC substances and is RoHS compliant.

All materials used in the unit should be disposed of in accordance with local legislation and as stipulated by the responsible authority.

Relief Housing Unit (RHU) Dimensions

Covered living area: 17.5 m²

  • Length: 5.68 m
  • Width: 3.32 m
  • Height: 2.83 m

Max. indoor height: 2.7 m

Min. indoor height [eave level]: 1.8 m

Product brochure

Structure in 3D


  • Door: Leaf 1.7 m x 0.75 m / Frame 1.9 m x 1.0 m
  • Windows: Outer dimensions 0.45 m x 0.38 m

(Effective open window area: 0.062 m²)

  • Ventilations: Outer dimensions 0.41 m x 0.45 m 

(Effective ventilation area: 0.064 m²)

Product brochure



1 packed unit = 1.14 m3 (2.02 m x 1.09 m x 0.52 m)

One shelter is delivered in two boxes, which together weigh 155 kg.

    Box A: 2020 x 1090 x 230 mm (84 kg)

    Box B: 2000 x 1090 x 290 mm (71 kg)

48 units fit into a container 40 feet HC.

36 units fit into a container 40 feet DC.

Shipping information


Assembling a 17.5 m2 Relief Housing Unit (RHU) requires a team of four and takes 5 to 6 hours depending on experience, conditions and location.

The shelter is delivered in two cardboard boxes which have been packed to reflect the order in which components will be used in construction. The two boxes can be lifted by four people and contain all necessary tools and instruction manuals. The shelter is constructed in three stages:

  1. Steel foundation
  2. Roof with ventilation and solar panel
  3. Walls with windows and door

More information about our technical support