French engineer Geoffroy de Reynal gained new perspective over a prevalent issue in his home country after taking time out to work overseas. Reynal, 26, moved to Montenegro to work on a sustainable energy project involving wind turbines, but upon his return to Paris, he was shocked by what he saw.
Sanka a son Iglou! C’est un vrai plaisir d’aider une belle personne
In January of 2017, Reynal hit the streets of the French capital and was dismayed to encounter a huge number of homeless people struggling to stay safe and warm. It is true that distance lends perspective, and the scale of the problem was suddenly more obvious to the young engineer than it ever had been before.
Speaking to Global Citizen, Reynal explained: “I noticed how many people were sleeping rough in the cold in Paris streets,” he began. He was shocked by the contrast with Montenegro, the country he had returned from, because “France is a more advanced country economically,” Reynal observed.
Concern mounted, the cogs of the engineer’s problem-solving mind began to turn, and a project was born.
Experienced in construction solutions, Reynal started to think outside the box. The target demographic for his burgeoning project was the homeless community who “cannot benefit from the official homeless program,” Reynal stated. The problem had become, quite simply, too huge.
Reynal searched far and wide for a workable solution and eventually came across a shape that lent itself perfectly to the task at hand: the igloo. The engineer wasted no time in building a prototype from his home in Bordeaux, and just three months after his return from Montenegro, in the spring of 2017, he revealed the first model “Iglou” at a friend’s farm. The cold, rural temperatures were ideal for a test run of the Iglou’s heat-retaining properties.
The compact, waterproof, washable, and repairable structure was made from polyethylene foam and aluminum foil. Its modest size—6.5 feet long by 4 feet wide—was thoughtfully contrived. A 2018 volunteer census recorded at least 3,000 people sleeping rough in Paris, and the Iglou, if it were going to catch on, had to present a practicable solution.
A person’s body temperature can heat the inside of the Iglou upwards of 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the outside temperature, a potentially life-saving characteristic of the engineer’s invention.
The prototype worked, and Reynal has since built and installed a grand total of 20 Iglous around Paris and Bordeaux. France has legally ensured the “right of housing” since 2007, Reynal shared, but “in most cities, the official homeless help program is saturated, even in winter time.”
It is not unusual to see members of the homeless population sleeping on top of the snow.
Resources and funding for housing to accommodate the French capital’s exponentially growing homeless community are somewhat scarce. Reynal’s project arrives in the nick of time, and the young engineer is all too aware of how many more Iglous are really needed. Mercifully, the project has received positive reactions from both homeless and non-homeless populations, and continues to garner support.
Surviving the winter is not just about keeping warm for the city’s homeless. It is also about safety, and dignity. The Iglous provide both.
Reynal proudly shared that a Ulele crowdfunding initiative more than tripled its original goal by raising over US$20,000 for building more Iglous. “Every night a person sleeps outside in the cold affects the whole society,” he said. “Providing Iglous to this person won’t make it perfect, but at least it’s a first step … It helps the society as a whole.”
This French engineer designed a special igloo for the homeless in Paris to stay warm through winter.
Al Jazeera English စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၈၊ ဖေဖော်ဝါရီ ၂၈၊ ဗုဒ္ဓဟူးနေ့
The project now has its own website, and continues to grow in an effort to help lessen the last cold waves of the winter, and beyond.
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Author: Louise Bevan
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