Because recent disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti, raised emergency housing (or the lack of adequate options) as a topic of concern, the AIA Young Architects Forum and the AIA Committee on Design asked architects, students, and other design professionals to produce improved models for temporary housing. Their directive was simple: explore the issue of temporary relief housing that could have a permanent function. Here are the top three contenders:

Gene Kaufman, AIA, who tied for first place, conceived Free as lightweight, prefabricated modules that condense to 8 feet by 16 feet for storage and transport but expand 250 percent on site. Easily assembled by untrained labor, the modules are adaptable to varying terrain and climates, making them viable for long-term use.

Jiyoun Kim’s Woven Shelter also tied for first. Improving on the tent, Kim’s design features a string of fabric doughnut-shaped elements that would be filled with local materials. The panels are then woven into a self-supporting structure.

In third, Eric Polite’s Community Unit uses plastic molding and trailer units to build modules that look like a section of a space station. The units screw together in six steps and can be assembled in five hours.