The Homeless Studio
MADWORKSHOP | USC
MADWORKSHOP has collaborated with the University of Southern California School of Architecture (USC) to establish the MADWORKSHOP Homeless Studio.
The coursework explores the architect’s role in helping to solve the Los Angeles homeless crisis.
Driven by the need to address Los Angeles’ rapidly accelerating homelessness crisis, the concept of the Studio was conceived in 2015 by Mary Klaus Martin, Co-Founder of MADWORKSHOP, and developed in partnership with USC and USC faculty members R. Scott Mitchell and Sofia Borges.
The MADWORKSHOP Homeless Studio explores the architect’s role in solving homelessness, focusing specifically on the area of transitional housing, and temporary, modular, and expandable solutions. “We have designed a comprehensive course that gives students real-world insight into the complexities of the problem of homelessness,” says David C. Martin, Co-Founder of MADWORKSHOP. “Students will have the opportunity to work with local agencies, city officials, artists, and activists to develop a holistic solution to tackling homelessness in Los Angeles.”
Practical problem-solving and real-life cases form a large component of the semester that will be devoted to the design of a 30-bed modular shelter for women for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in the San Fernando Valley. Students will work directly with CEO of the organization Ken Craft to develop thoughtful solutions to help the organization manage their increasing number of residents. The studio also heavily features hands-on fabrication workshops, and will include the creation of large scale prototypes and the completion of a series of tiny homes for the homeless.
Visiting lecturers include experts and pioneers Michael Maltzan, architect and creator of several supportive permanent housing projects; Ted Hayes, homeless rights activist and creator of Dome Village in Downtown Los Angeles; Gary Blasi, Professor of Law Emeritus at UCLA known for his extensive work in public interest practice; artist and tiny house builder Greg Kloehn; Jon Szabo, City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library who has championed innovative library services that address critical community needs; and Betty Kwan Chinn, a pioneer of community based housing solutions and day centers for the homeless of Humboldt County, CA and recipient of the Presidential Citizen’s Medal awarded by President Obama.
Students will make numerous site visits to key local agencies such as the Skid Row Housing Trust, LAMP Community (Los Angeles Men’s Place), and Downtown Women’s Center, among others. The class will also have the opportunity to speak and engage with people experiencing homelessness and the recently rehoused to get their perspective and learn firsthand about their visions and barriers towards housing.The efforts of this course will be documented and compiled into a final publication, which will be published by the USC School of Architecture in 2017.