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Meet Kaif Ali, a 20-year-old student of architecture from Jamia Millia

Earlier he designed quarantine shelter project, now this Aspiring architect is working on Low-cost housing units.

Meet Kaif Ali, a 20-year-old student of architecture from Jamia Millia Islamia who has been appreciated by ‘Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal’, the Honourable HRD Minister of India for conceptualizing a makeshift COVID-19 shelter out of shipping containers. He has also been honoured by NDTV as a COVID-19 lockdown hero for his contribution.

Let’s have a look at the backstory of the innovation.

The idea of a multipurpose shelter was born in 2019 when Mr. Kaif participated in an international competition to make transitional shelters for refugees. It was his passion to serve his community through architecture and a belief that there is much good that can be done with intelligent architectural innovation that helped him stay with the project through thick and thin. He made an intention to create something cost effective and purposeful. He calls his creation SpaceEra and defines it as “a standard ‘space’ developed for the pandemic ‘Era’ and beyond.”

SpaceEra at a glance

SpaceEra Design (copyright 10537/2020-CO/L)

Mr. Kaif presents SpaceEra as a universal solution for building a compact, sustainable and transitional shelter. The idea behind the project was to build a standard space where people can take shelter having low-cost design stratergies while ensuring their physical and mental wellbeing. This design is an efficient concept which can be used for multiple purposes including but not limited to,

  • Night and food shelters
  • Army base camps
  • Flood relief camps
  • Refugee camps
  • Low-Cost Housing Units

For this pandemic 2020, There is a high probability for a COVID-19 patient to infect his/her family members when quarantining at home and there are similar risks when quarantining at public facilities. It is difficult for the general public to get a bed in a hospital; even if they are lucky enough to get one the charges are unaffordable in most cities. SpaceEra is structured to maintain social distancing and healthcare precautions as per guidelines issued by Indian and International medical bodies.It provides much needed health infrastructure  and essential facilities. The proposal is important for developing nations, especially African countries.

During a pandemic, SpaceEra can be used not just as a quarantine facility but also as a

SpaceEra Design (copyright 10537/2020-CO/L)


  • Hospital Incremental Proposal
  • Portable Washroom Unit
  • Shelter for migrants
  • Health care centres

Low-cost housing model of SpaceEra

“Each container/PUF panel unit is cuboid in shape and is easy to construct, portable, and has economically adaptable structures. Around 8 containers can be stacked up to create 1 housing unit to accommodate up to 10-15 people.

SpaceEra Design (copyright 10537/2020-CO/L)

While that may seem not workable right now, but his idea has been appreciated and got implementation opportunities in Lagos, Nigeria.

SpaceEra 1st prototype got sponsorship from Nigeria and will going to implement as Low-cost housing unit maintaining the healthcare precautions in design strategies in 2021.

Lagos, Nigeria

Also, He is currently working with an organization in Nigeria to create a medical facility using shipping containers but in a more professionally-executable way from the same concept of his project SpaceEra.

The prototype isn’t only high on innovation but also meets the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations i.e.

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7 : Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SpaceEra Achievements

 And thus, has won many awards and nominations for the same such as Best design project Beyond Covid19 Business Challenge by PreprLab, California, USA, the project has won D’source corona challenge at IIT Bombay, Mumbai, One in a Million Award by Multiplying Good (New York, USA), Award by Smart Habitat Foundation (Delhi, India) and has been shortlisted for many others.

On being asked for his message to young people, Kaif Ali replied that we all have an idea from our respective fields that can make a difference and is beneficial for society. We just have to initiate. We all have the potential to inspire.

Remember 3I concept, IMAGINE, INITIATE, INSPIRE.

Author: Kaif Ali, student of architecture from Jamia Millia