Believe it or not, but a Mountain bike is more Engineered
than the Houses of hundreds of Millions of people in the world!
Cracking the Codes to Build safer Homes

The Need for Research

Imagine a wall in Nepal made of mountain stones of different sizes, mixed with old cement, polluted water, and in the wrong proportions. How do we test this?

Today, we know how to make a high-tech skyscraper earthquake-resistant. But we don’t have a valid building code for a simple house made with natural materials in seismic zones.

We need more knowledge on how to build safe, sensible, and seismic-proof structures with traditional building techniques.

A call to action!

Smart Shelter Research focuses on finding clear answers through research, development, testing and state-of-the-art calculations. Our scientific approach is unique and never done before! In our calculations, we include the influence of local building materials and workmanship. With the results, we develop reliable manuals and building codes with simplified hand calculation methods.

We will publish all validated knowledge free of cost, and we make sure that it will reach those areas where it is needed the most. To achieve this, we will develop an app that is free of cost and available for everyone.

How It Works

We transform highly scientific knowledge into simple hand calculations and field tests. We bring the practical information back to the level of the local masons and carpenters.

Smart Shelter Research is a 100% open-source platform for research, worldwide collaboration, and knowledge exchange.

Our research shows that hundreds of millions of people worldwide live in traditionally built houses. Furthermore, we see a growing awareness and urgent need for alternative materials and environmental solutions, to meet the global sustainable development goals.

To reach these goals, we have set up an interactive project called SMARTnet.
We need to develop reliable guidelines and building codes with proven solutions, through research, testing, modelling, and calculations.
This practical information will benefit local masons, architects, engineers, students, experts, and the aid industry, worldwide.

We invite experts and professionals to share their expertise in discussions; establish collaborations; conduct research; review; validate and complement missing information.

Students from all over the world can apply for our research assignments and collaborate with fellow students, experts, and professionals

Our research disciplines include Architecture, Building Science, Civil, Structural, and Earthquake Engineering, Geotechnics, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial Product Design.

For more participation information see project SMARTnet or drop us a line via the contact page.

Who We Are

In 2005, Martijn started the Smart Shelter Concept. It now comprises three divisions that focus on finding Safe, Sensible, and Seismic proof structures with traditional building techniques for the developing and post-disaster context. As well as for modern architectural applications and global environmental solutions.

  • Smart Shelter Foundation is the NGO and builds for the poor in developing countries.
  • Smart Shelter Research focuses on low-tech construction related research projects.
  • Smart Shelter Consultancy conducts workshops and lectures to universities worldwide.

Martijn Schildkamp, PhD. Founder and executive director of SSR- SSF- SSC and project SMARTnet.

Martijn is an architect and building engineer from The Netherlands with a passion for alternative materials, vernacular architecture, traditional building techniques, and their seismic behaviour.

He dedicates his expertise and time to people across the globe who need safer housing and improved living conditions. He designed and built many projects in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Since 2017 his focus is on how to make rubble stone constructions more earthquake resistant. Today, he established a global network of experts and academic collaborations.

His activities are multi-disciplinary as he works as a researcher, architect, engineer, calculator, trainer, supervisor, and mason all at the same time. Over the years he gained an enormous amount of grass-root experience and practical knowledge. Martijn transfers this knowledge to students and professionals worldwide.

His Smart Shelter philosophy and work have resulted in being a finalist for the largest design award in the world, Index Award. The award’s theme was ‘Design to Improve Life’. He also showed his latest research findings during a Mini-Symposium at the 17th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Japan. These are enormous achievements and compliments that we are very proud of!

You can download his papers for free.

Tessa van Weelie, coordinator.

Tessa joined Smart Shelter in 2007 and has been helping with the projects ever since. She supports the overall organization and helps with the projects on-site. She has a strong background in coordinating and planning, and is very good at getting things actually done. A good communicator with endless enthusiasm.

Please join us on Facebook and Twitter, if you want to be notified about the latest news.

Our Partners, Collaborators and Contributors

We are establishing a fast growing network of professionals, organizations, faculties and professors at universities worldwide. We are currently collaborating and exchanging knowledge with over 30 experts, whom are connected to one or more institutions of the following list:

  • Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), worldwide.
  • International Association for Earthquake Engineering (IAEE), worldwide.
  • World Housing Encyclopedia (WHE), worldwide.
  • Earthquake Watch Group, in Iran.
  • Pavia Engineering Commission for International Cooperation, in Italy.
  • Auroville Earth Institute, in India.
  • Engineers without Borders Ireland.
  • Engineers Without Borders Australia.


  • Dept. of Structural Engineering, Oregon State University in the USA.
  • Architecture and Community Design Program, University of San Francisco USA.
  • Dept. of Civil Engineering, California State University, Fresno USA.
  • Dept. of Structural Engineering, Tohoku Gakuin University in Japan.
  • Dept. of Civil Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
  • Dept. of Structural Engineering, University of Bergamo in Italy.
  • Dept. of Civil Engineering, University of Bologna in Italy.
  • Dept. of Structural Engineering, Politecnico di Milano in Italy.
  • Dept. of Structural Engineering, University of Pavia in Italy.
  • Dept. of Structural Engineering, Széchenyi István University in Hungary.
  • College of Engineering, Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland.
  • Dept. of Building Engineering, Delft Technical University in The Netherlands.
  • Dept. of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur.
  • Dept. of Earthquake Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.
  • Dept. of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh Univ. of Engineering and Technology.
  • Understanding and Managing Extremes (UME), IUSS Pavia, Italy.
  • Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Limerick in Ireland.
  • Dept. of Industrial Design, University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.

For detailed information about how you can collaborate with our assignments, please contact us. We invite you to join!