A Novel Transitional Housing Solution – Solar Decathlon 2021

See the latest updates in the run up to the BBBC launch here


The Disaster Context in China

China is one of the most severely disaster-affected countries in the world. Disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and storms result in more than 20 million people displaced every year across the country. In the immediate disaster response, core considerations include the physical and mental health of those affected, access to water and sanitation equipment, restoration of energy, and the provision of safe transitional shelters. Emergency responders must attend to these immediate needs, but with the frequency and severity of disasters increasing, more and more attention is also being paid to long-term resilience and capacity building in affected communities.

Working closely with partner groups focused on humanitarian response, health in humanitarian emergencies, and post-disaster recovery, a student group from Beijing Jaiotong University are looking to develop a post-disaster housing solution that considers these emergency needs and that can adapt to provide shelter and services for a longer duration during the transitional phase of the response.

As part of BRE Trust’s support for knowledge transfer opportunities in China, we are supporting this student group in their development of a post-disaster housing solution to enter into the 2021 Solar Decathlon competition.

The Challenge

Solar Decathlon China (SDC) was initiated in China in 2011. SDC aims to create a workforce development and education program which can provide student architects, engineers, business majors, and communicators the opportunity to cooperate in designing and building sustainable housing projects that can respond to people’s daily realities and regional development.


The Project

Through the participation of Solar Decathlon China 2021, Beijing Jiaotong University aims to research, design and develop a versatile, reusable and affordable modular transitional housing prototype which can be transformed into a multifunctional working space for disaster relief teams.  The design aims to facilitate disaster relief teams as they conduct their emergency rescue mission, and support recovery and reconstruction in the long term. Blending state-of-art solar technology and sustainable emergency architectural design, the prototype aims to offer sustainable solutions to accommodate needs of rescue teams, whilst promoting recovery and livelihoods of the affected community in different phases of post-disaster relief.

The BBBC (Bag, Box, Building, Community) prototype will consist of a four-stage modular housing design, with each stage designed to meet the needs of the disaster response context. In the first stage, the Bag will be designed to carry emergency supplies required in the first 72 hours post-disaster. The integrated Box strategy is aimed at the reconstruction phase after 72 hours and will include a light structural frame and a rapid assembly system with integration of energy and transport facilities. As time moves forward, the Building can be developed from the Box layout to provide shelter and facilities for the affected community. In the longer period of post-disaster recovery, through participatory community planning, the community functions will be built out to meet the needs of the affected population.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest project develops at the project website

The Team

In this competition, Beijing Jiaotong University will join forces with Loughborough University, Chan Cheung Mun Chung Charitable Fund, and the BRE Trust to form an international joint team.

BRE Trust will provide consultation and technical advice during the design concept development and execution of the project, particularly through the use of the QSAND shelter and settlements sustainability tool to ensure that the design and development of the BBBC considers the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the post-disaster response. We will also provide further resources and tools for the students to support their skills and knowledge, through the provision of training materials and online workshops relevant to the project.

This project is key in building strong relationships between the BRE Trust and our partners in China, as well as furthering the relationship with Loughborough University and expanding upon the community energy resilience work being undertaken by Dr Long Seng To.

The BRE Trust also aims to connect the project team with other relevant partners in the humanitarian space, who can provide further technical support in the areas of humanitarian response, community resilience, health and shelter in post-disaster response, and holistic sustainability thinking.


See updates from the BJTU+ Team Workshop on the 29th October Here

If you would like to support the project, please contact us at [email protected].


Stay tuned for further updates as the project develops.