I’m not sure this is a product that will ever be manufactured and used, but it’s an interesting idea. Product design house Psychic Factory have developed a food and water container that doubles as a building material.
The container would be filled with water or food – perhaps rice – and shipped as disaster relief. Once the goods had been used, the containers could be filled with sand and then stacked together lego-style to make temporary shelters. It solves a housing problem and a food transportation problem, and turns empty containers into something useful, unlike the plastic bottles we throw away in their millions on a daily basis.
That’s the theory anyway. There are a few problems with the idea. As a storage container, these would be very expensive compared to a sack for rice or a barrel for water. You’d need an armfuls every week to feed a family, but you’d still be unlikely to ever gather together the several hundred you’d need to make a shelter.
And that wouldn’t be a cost effective shelter either. I’ve seen Engineers Without Borders students build geodesic dome shelters out of cheap plastic pipe and a tarp, with a fraction of the materials that this would use.
Unfortunately, the Unicef brick is probably just a design team having a bit of fun rather than a serious solution, but I like it, and it makes me wonder what other forms of packaging could have a second use incorporated into the design from the outset.