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Designboom highlights The Homeless Studio

in the los angeles county area, nearly 47,000 people are homeless — a number that has increased by 5.7% since 2015. throughout the united states, more than 500,000 people are without permanent residence, with solutions needed across the country. through investigating the architect’s role in tackling the problem, three different schemes have been produced — focusing on temporary, modular, and expandable solutions, as well as transitional housing.

in september 2017, the martin architecture and design workshop (MADWORKSHOP) partnered with the university of southern california school of architecture (USC) to spearhead the homeless studio, an organization whose mission is to develop design solutions that address LA’s homelessness crisis. ‘as designers, we have the power to make a difference, and the students realized that through the course of the semester,’ explains sofia borges, director of MADWORKSHOP. ‘being able to design and build at full scale and have actual people living in the spaces that they created made a big impact on them.’

led by USC faculty members r. scott mitchell and sofia borges, the students’ first project required the development of full scale, inhabitable nomadic shelters. the units had to be collapsible and adaptive enough so that they could be reconfigured to suit a range of locations. materials were limited to what is realistically obtainable for someone living on the streets, such as a shopping cart, or a small wooden box. following this, a one-week workshop led by oakland-based artist gregory kloehn asked students to scavenge the city to look for materials that could be transformed into three tiny dwellings. the only costs for this project were wheels, locks, and screws.

finally, all 11 students worked together on the final project, a 30-bed modular shelter for hope of the valley rescue mission, a real-life client. titled ‘homes for hope’, the scheme provides modular housing for the city’s homeless female population. 92 square foot units aggregate into 30-bed communities, with base modules that combine to form communal spaces, bathroom facilities, outdoor terraces, and courtyards. the project has even received support from local authorities, and has now moved into the fundraising stage.