The Hexayurt Project Free hardware shelter technology

The Gupta State Failure Management Archive is now online at The collection has over ten hours of Public Domain video and audio teaching a set of thinking tools for extreme resilience, ideal for downloading (4.3gb HTTP) (4.3gb Bittorrent) and burning on a DVD for handing out to people. You can read a little more about the archive too.

Hello, Occupy. You'll be wanting Avoid Winter War which discusses the practicalities of Occupying through a cold winter and suggests alternative tactics. You can also see the Occupy Pittsburgh hexayurt writeup and a thread on managing fire risk. If you would like to know about my politics, watch this or this which discusses the 99%/1% mythology. When Occupy speaks to those concerns, I'll be more supportive.

We're on the Boing Boing homepage - there's a satellite image which highlights each of the 500+ hexayurts on the Playa this year! Also a link to a new professional documentation effort to produce aid-worker friendly versions of the hexayurt plans! Great stuff.

Welcome burners, Cool Tools and Boing Boing readers. Goons, if you have specific questions, feel free to ask on the mailing list. Japanese language articles about the hexayurt (緊急避難所については日本語で書く): 1, 2, 3. Contact us. We have two new plywood hexayurt videos which show how to build on in detail, and discuss how to use them in disasters.

The hexayurt shelter can cost less than a relief tent, is designed to be manufactured anywhere in the world at any scale, from local materials, as Free hardware, to house humans in need. The Hexayurt Project maintains the designs and makes them freely available to you.

To make the simplest hexayurt, make a wall by putting six sheets of plywood on their sides in a hexagon. Cut six more sheets in half diagonally, and screw them together into a shallow cone. Lift the roof on to the wall with a large group of people, then fasten it down with more screws. Seal and paint it for durability. Your basic hexayurt is complete.

This shelter will last for years in most climates and costs less than $100. This basic design can be improved with proper windows, doors, room partitions, stove fittings and other architectural features. More durable materials could give it a very long life. The basic building materials are available within a few hours drive of almost any large settlement in the world and can be cheaply imported in enormous quantities if needs be.

The hexayurt may be ideal for a variety of disaster relief situations, including cold weather disasters and evacuating cities.

Here are the key points.
  • Hexayurts can be built in plywood/OSB for less than $100 for a 166 square foot (15 sq meter) building. See the Plywood hexayurt how-to video and The Hexayurt in Haiti? technical document on an ultra-rugged design for hurricane risk areas.
  • Hexayurts can be made in a variety of sizes using simple tools from industry standard 4'x8' (1.2x2.4m) sheets with zero waste and can be made successfully from many different materials, like plywood, OSB, coroplast, composites, hexacomb cardboard or other honeycombs and polyiso insulation boards.
  • We also have new hexayurt geometrices
  • Hexayurts are public domain with no copyright or patent, meaning anybody can build as many as they like for free.

Depending on your choice of materials, a Hexayurt can last for years or even decades. In some long stay applications this could cut the cost of providing shelter to 10% of the cost of using standard relief tents. The hexayurt enables regional shelter self sufficiency, where in a crisis, pre-trained local builders or military personnel can work with first responders to rapidly create shelter from materials in the local supply chain, typically plywood or OSB.

This could prove particularly useful in areas with large scale repeated rehousing needs, such as the Hurricane Belt or flood-prone areas like Bangaldesh. Materials can be trucked in from near by unaffected areas at substantially lower cost than airfreighting in tents: in fact, the typical $100 air freight on a $350 relief tent is enough to pay for a whole hexayurt. We are actively seeking NGO partners to field-test this radically lower cost sheltering solution.

Science for Humanity is helping us coordinate research on the hexayurt with scientific and engineering institutions.
Vinay Gupta

twitter - about me - project map - policy work - email
I'm currently in London.

The main Hexayurt knowledge repository is on Appropedia, the open source appropriate technology wiki. Also see the Hexayurt schematics, plans for larger hexayurts and SketchUp 3d hexayurt models. The hexayurt is part of a wider poverty alleviation strategy called the Soft Development Path which is described best in the Ending Poverty with Open Hardware talk.

Vinay is currently working on infrastructure-centric resilience and disaster relief at Buttered Side Down, a British resilience anddisaster relief consultancy.

Important safety notice. Please read the Hexayurt Safety Information page on Appropedia for news on using Tuff-R / R-Max to make Hexayurts for Burning Man and similar events.

News & Press

Hexayurt Project at Appropedia

Appropedia provides the main information site for the Hexayurt Project, and most of the links on this page will take you to the relevant information on Appropedia.

Hexayurts for Refugees and Disaster Relief

Refugees are a special case of the very poor. This PDF outlines how we can use hexayurts and decentralized infrastructure to provide many basic services very inexpensively (backup link) , in a way that suits the living conditions of both refugees and the very poor in general. You can also see an updated, simplified PDF here.

There is also some material which applies to off-the-grid living situations, like Mountain Huts for camping, occasional-use cabins and so on.

Hexayurts for disaster relief could use the $100 per house on-site factory approach. This is also how we would anticipate hexayurt fabrication in the developing world, rather than shipping out polyiso insulation panels..

Networked Domestic Disaster Response is a plan (short intro) which has been examined by the American Red Cross and FEMA, for sheltering people after disasters like Katrina through community preparedness and working together. The basic plan is to fabricate hundreds of thousands of hexayurts from materials already in the building supply warehouses to shelter up to millions of people in a disaster. (backup link)

Treehugger Radio did an interview which contains more information, or you can check out this blog post for a quick introduction. (backup link)


We've been participating in the Institute for the Future Superstruct game. If you're interested in the Hexayurt Project superstruct activity, please see the table below for links between the 2019 scenario, and the current 2008 projects. We also won some awards! (see 22:30 "taking it seriously" and 41:30 "plausibly surreal" at this video link, text page later)

Real 2109 Superstruct Scenario
The Hexayurt Project - you're here! The Hexayurt Project Superstruct
2008 videos: you're probably in the best place for those! 2019 Videos (in order):
Field report from DCAR
Teaching SERAA Mapping (whiteboard)
DCAR leaked communications intercept (make us look bad)
DCAR - the whole story of the battle and the aftermath
Somaila, Darfur DCAR - The Refugee State
The Global Swadeshi Network on Ning The Global Swadeshi Superstruct
World Help Training Center a Convetible Community SERAA - South East Resilience Action Area Superstruct
The CheapID Identity Services Architecture paper. CheapID intro here Open Source Biometrics / Digital Identity OpenID, Seeds ATM, and Bright Green all either user or are similar to CheapID. (not my structs!) and Open Source Ecology (sister project) The Unplugged Superstruct
My Blog
Soft Development Paths at Gupta
My Superstruct 2019 Blog
My Superstruct SEHI Homepage


Hexayurt Project World Map

Here's our new global map of hexayurts builds. You can click on the map points and see images and videos of most of the builds. Please take a moment and add your hexayurt - don't forget to upload an image and set a location. It understands Black Rock City, Nevada as Burning Man.

Hexayurts for Burning Man

Thank you for joining us for the 2nd Annual Black Rock City Hexayurt Happy Hour, Burning Man 2011.
Thank you yurtsteaders of Burning Man 2011 for a fantastic burn and a wonderful Hexayurt Happy Hour! You worked wonders with your hexagonal sugar cookies, hexayurt hats, Miss Hexayurt 2011, and the hexagonal cheese and crackers (somewhere in the desert, there's a bunch of tiny cheese triangles...) Super extra love to Playagon village, especially Bayesian Conspiracy and Yurtopia for hosting ze party and rescuing the gin and tonics when the whole playa was out of ice! And much love to aka Harrison Bros for the donation of extra tape for desperate yurters.

For all who who couldn't make it to the happy hour, we sympathize with whatever distracted you, because we wanted to barge in on every hexayurter and pick their brains, but were distracted ourselves. Thanks as well to those who allowed us to interview and photograph your hexayurt developments-- they will be great for the hexayurt knowledge repository. Feel free to contribute new modifications and techniques here on Appropedia, or connect with us on the hexayurt google group. See you next year!

Here's Julie Danger's new "how to make hexayurts" video. It's excellent!
Corey's folding hexayurt video gives a pretty good sense of how it all works.

Learn how to build a Hexayurt for recreational use. (backup link). Here's a step-by-step checklist for building a hexayurt for Burning Man. You can also watch these two timelapse videos by Kevin Price of making and putting up a hexayurt.

This 12 minute video gives a petty good overview of the process. (mpeg). Unfortunately the folding hexayurt project fell through - it's DIY all the way for now.
Woody's Pup Hexayurt is mentioned in the video and can be good for demonstrations etc.

Julie Danger's folding hexayurt how-to videos

The Camp Danger Instructional Youtube Videos are here.
Here are written instructions for the Camp Danger Semi Folding 8' Hexayurt/Hinge Technique, H13 Hexayurt with Hinge Technique.

This is seriously the best how-to documentation for the hexayurt ever done.

Start here! My talk at c-base Berlin

Click here for notes, MP4 format video, PDF of slides etc. Folding hexayurt videos.

The Cloughjordan Plywood H13

For more information, see this blog post

EWB Plywood Hexayurt Videos

Finally the chapter and verse on how to build a plywood hexayurt. We'll have translations of this up soon!

This second video explains how the plywood hexayurt could be used as an alternative to the relief tent. The Hexayurt in Haiti PDF has additional build details and enhancements for hurricane areas. Download the videos.

Technical note: blocks should have two screws in each side, not one as shown in the video. We were in a hurry because the building had to go up and down in the same day. The PDF has correct screw placement diagrams.

The Folding Hexayurt

Click for youtube version.

Burning Ice, Hexayurt Village, Brussels 2011

The Hexayurt in Haiti? shows how to build a cheap ($200-$300?) plywood hexayurt which is being evaluated for use in Haiti. You can see a hexayurt built by Grass Roots United in early June 2010 to the right.

Hexayurt Country is our national-level strategy for reconstruction in Haiti.

Wired and United Nations Dispatch discuss the hexayurt.

New Hexayurt Designs

The Hexayurt Community

If you are blogging or have pictures of hexayurts, please tag "hexayurt" so people can find hexayurt pictures on Flickr and follow hexayurt blog posts at Technorati.

Join the Hexayurt communities on the Hexayurt mailing list or on the Hexayurt tribe.

Subscribe to the Hexayurt discussion list
Browse Archives at

When we stop pretending

What do we do when we stop pretending? (audio, 10mb MP3)
Vinay Gupta's introduction to the George Monbiot/Dougald Hine discussion at the Dark Mountain festival. A ten minute presentation on the present and the future of environmentalism and social justice from a Gandhian perspective. You can also hear my one hour Dark Mountain session on collapsonomics.


Enabling Humanitarian Innovation - TEDxEWB (Engineers Without Borders.) Well produced with good quality audio! Talk slides (pdf).

New and Developed

Africa Gathering London 2010. The video is very quiet. Louder MP3 of the talk. Talk slides (pdf).

The Guardian on Swadeshi

Video on Gandhi's swadeshi (local self-reliance), the British "Big Society", resilience and appropriate technology featuring Richard Stallman and Vinay Gupta. I appear about half way through, and again near the end.
View on The Guardian web site (opens in new window.)
See Global Swadeshi, our international social network.
Thanks to Heydon Prowse and Will Pine for making the film.

The Plywood Hexayurt

Ending Poverty with Open Hardware

Discussion, and links to HQ video, the presentation slides, and so on.

from the Reykjavik Digital Freedoms Conference.
Donate to Science for Humanity's hexayurt fund here.
Thanks to Don't Panic for the film!

Hexayurts for Haiti

Grassroots United is Sam Bloch's organization. Science for Humanity is raising money for research.

The Reykjavik Briefing

This is a clip from the Reykjavik Briefing - go there to download the rest of the presentation and PDFs of the chart. Enjoy.

The Formenshus Folding Hexayurt

Small Folding Hexayurt

2 Minute Overview Video - Play This!

Watch an interview with Vinay Gupta and Robert Vrtis (OSD)

Hexayurt Tour from Burning Man

Additional video links on infrastructure, poverty and the big picture here.

Remember the hexayurt design is public domain!

Leave a message or discuss Hexayurts. Contact us.

Vinay's blog. A collection of Vinay's writing. Appropriate Technology is Foreign Policy work.

Fiction about the long term vision.
If you made it this far, you should read this

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