Cricket Shelter, a combined emergency shelter and food source

Disruption happens, and not just to industries when new tech arrives. Try asking the people who lived in New Orleans when Katrina hit or anyone in the area of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. In both those cases, while there were massive losses and personal tragedy and relocation, many people were eventually absorbed in other parts of the country. But what if that weren’t possible? What if communications and transportation had broken down and people were unable to leave the area and suddenly everyone had to find alternate shelter and food sources?

Fortunately, there are people and agencies that study disaster relief and look for solutions. One such group is Terraform, a self-described “nonprofit organization for philanthropic architecture, urban and ecological design.” There are many examples of innovative urban solutions on the Terraform site, but none more striking than the Cricket Shelter, a modular, edible insect farm that can also serve as an emergency shelter.

The Cricket Shelter is a response to a United Nations mandate asserting that “insect-sourced protein is a major component to solving global food distribution problems.” Apparently crickets raised as food deliver a much higher protein ratio for the water required to raise them do than other protein sources. The video accompanying the project touts cricket flour as a protein-rich food staple.

At first glance, the Cricket Shelter looks like a dinosaur shed its coat. There are what look like scales on the main structure and vanes of some sort sticking up from the top. It turns out that, constructed on an arched, plywood frame, the scales are actually separate pods specially designed for raising and harvesting crickets. The top-mounted vanes help with ventilation.

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The sheltering aspect of the Cricket Shelter is pretty minimal, but the example shown on the site could protect you from sun, rain, and wind. If several of the structures were joined it’s conceivable that a group of people could stay there for a while. It would certainly beat sleeping in the open or under bridges, if any were still standing.

Deployment of Cricket Shelters following a disaster would require complex logistics. Presumably the shelters would be used with populations familiar with using crickets as a food. For the rest of us, accepting and adjusting to insects as a dietary mainstay would be a challenge, although hunger might help with the adjustment.

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