Gold Coast Bulletin
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Friday October 15th 2021
Award-winning architect Paul Coupe has developed a world-first shelter that two people can erect withing hours with one hand tool. Picture Glenn Hampson
Emily Toxward – Gold Coast Bulletin Friday October 15th 2021
AWARD-winning Gold Coast architect Paul Coupe is on a mission to improve the lives of millions of the world's neediest people with his world-first shelter.
It can be erected by two people within hours using one hand tool. It started 14 years ago when he had a surprise visit from an Australian Army brigadier who'd just returned from Iraq.
Carrying a bag of prawns and a six-pack of cold beers, the soldier revealed a problem of inadequate and wasteful shelters, as well as the need for the army to avoid having to predefine its shelter requirements before deployment.
Mr Coupe, 68, said he was asked to invent a more flexible, adaptable solution - the Modular lntermodal Containerised Expedient Building System (MICEBS) was born.
It took eight years to achieve the full US and Australian patents for the system and now the quietly spoken inventor is ready to launch into full-scale, high-volume production.
Mr Coupe, an architect of 40 years who built Mariner's Cove in his 30s, is hoping to secure an investor to take the system global.
“When the brigadier told me hundreds of shipping containers were having to be left to rot in Iraq and could not be successfully used for other purposes, or even brought home for recycling, I knew I had to develop a unique solution.”
Due to its versatile, scalable, modular and cost-effective nature, MlCEBS can be used for an endless variety of purposes. This includes shelter for deployed military forces conducting community reconstruction, safety for aid organisations such as the Red Cross or hospitals or rapid shelter relief for communities displaced due to natural disasters. It could even be used for Covid quarantine accommodation.
Mr Coupe is proud MICEBS has its origins on the Gold Coast, “MICEBS is the only system in the world that can be erected by two people with one hand tool in hours, not days, handles sloping sites and provides a level floor above ground. Its expandability, adaptability, reusability make it unique.”
“At its heart, architecture is about sheltering people. Shelter is the first priority of survival. It's incredibly important. We need to reconstruct homes in such a way that they can better resist the next threat MICEBS provides this strength.”
“I look forward to seeing MICEBS in communities in need all over the world, whether they have been devastated by a cyclone or fire, are starving and homeless or relying on aid to provide them a temporary home in a war-ravaged country."
There are multiple material options, ranging from traditional tents to a new product called BalPal, an architectural armour capable of withstanding weapons up to AK-47 calibre.