For those without a place to sleep indoors during the frigid wintertime, a simple, foldable, igloo-like shelter can provide a warm and private space of their own.
The Iglou is an ingenious, portable structure thought up by French engineer Geoffroy de Reynal, who wanted to find a way to help the many people he saw sleeping on the streets in France.
De Reynal is seen here with one of the first people to get an Iglou in a post on the company’s Facebook page.
Each “Iglou” is made from polyethylene foam, which retains body heat, and is covered in aluminum foil to make the structure fire-resistant. The four pieces of foam are notched to go together like a puzzle, and then they are secured with velcro strips.
The temperature inside an Iglou can get up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the outside temperature, making these structures both cozy and potentially life-saving for those sleeping outside in below-freezing conditions.
You can see the structure in action on Iglou’s English-language Facebook page.
De Reynal used his own money to build and distribute the first Iglous in 2018. He later crowd-sourced $20,000 in funding for more shelters, and now partners with various organizations to cover the cost of each Iglou.
Outside of France, Iglous can be found in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Belgium and Canada, and the company is working to bring the product to other European countries and the U.S.
Since de Reynal first came up with the structures, he’s added an Iglou that can more comfortably fit two people and changed its color to a more neutral gray for better blending in with its surroundings. Iglou is now working with Spur, a Czech plastic manufacturing company, to produce the shelters in larger quantities.
De Reynal knows these foam structures aren’t a long-term solution to homelessness. According to Iglou’s site, they are only distributed to “cities and charities with night shelters or with outreach workers who frequently visit people experiencing homelessness. These charities know the circumstances of people sleeping rough and can best decide who needs an Iglou.”
Iglou has shared success stories on their website and on social media, writing about those living outside who did not trust charities or government organizations and who began to trust again after being provided an Iglou.
The tunnel-like spaces also work well for those who don’t want to sleep in an indoor homeless shelter because they have pets or an opposite-sex partner who couldn’t stay with them in a same-sex shelter. The Iglous can also tide people over during a cold winter while they search for more permanent housing.
A clever yet simple idea that’s making a big impact! What do you think of the Iglou?