Following natural disasters, many survivors find themselves in temporary housing that lack the comforts, privacy, and security of home. “In such harsh conditions, people are more likely to become ill, due to mental stress and exhaustion,” Hikaru Imamura writes. So to provide some succor for displaced victims, the Eindhoven-trained Japanese designer decided to build a kit of necessities whose container (a standard oil drum) could be transformed into a stove. “Warming your body, as well as having access to hot meals, can provide mental encouragement,” he says.
The project began as something quite different, a memorial to those who perished in the Kobe earthquake of 1995. But after Japan suffered a more recent earthquake and tsunami last March, Imamura shifted his focus in a more practical direction. His mother’s experience as a volunteer during that time also informed his conviction that hot water was a vital necessity. His utilitarian response is the Heat Rescue Disaster Recovery set, a readily available oil drum containing a pot, a manual for turning the drum into a wood-burning stove, packages of freeze-dried rice, bottled water, utensils, towels, work gloves, and 200 portions of pre-cooked food–enough provisions, according to Imamura, to sustain 30 people for two days.
The contents of the kits could be tailored to different cultures and locations, and Imamura hopes to develop the idea further with a smaller set for individual families. “Although I used to think up a poetic and unrealistic solution before,” he tells Co.Design, “I realized I should go more realistic direction, even if the idea won’t be super innovative as new design.”