Homeless Shelter [re]Typology
Homeless Shelter [re]Typology rethinks how the US responds to homelessness through adaptive design principles. The design addresses problems of personal space and ownership, allowing the inhabitants to feel comfortable and safe.
The theme of the EP Exhibit 2016 is It Takes a Community. Selected projects showcase the best work from young designers highlighting community impact and engagement.
In the US, 2.3 million people are homeless at least once each year. Seventy-one percent of the homeless live in cities, and as cities push to increase density, the percentage of homelessness will only increase. Change is needed to integrate these demographics within our urban cores.
Cities are often laid out in a grid to accommodate planning and ease of expansion. Although this looks logical from an urban scale, the human scale often lacks a sense of community. This grid planning restricts communal spaces from being able to adapt to their social context. Informal settlements are impractical for large scale planning, but they embody a larger abstract idea. Permitting organic growth within a community creates pockets of public space.
These pockets are created due to the need for a flexible program, a program that is not predetermined by design, but able to fluctuate to current programmatic demand. This fluctuation adds a temporal dimension to the community, something that structured communities struggle to offer. The disorder of informal settlements acts as a catalyst for unique communities to thrive.
This design aims to provide favorable conditions for organic growth through the development of unstructured communities. This is not to say that these communities will go unregulated, but rather that they are able to adapt to the social demand within their context and are not restricted to an infrastructure’s permanence.
Informal settlements are a compelling design idea in the sense that no one is left homeless. This is a result of everyone having the right to their own space. A large problem in homeless shelters is giving this sense of ownership and belonging to its occupants. This design enables the building to react and adapt to the current need of the occupants, allowing them to organize space around their own personal comfort and growth.
For some, being homeless is simply the result of resisting a structured lifestyle, rendering them inept to thrive within a structured establishment. The necessity for communities to come to verbal agreements on societal issues creates a sense of understanding and togetherness. Residents therefore will make personal connections and learn to cooperate with their surrounding neighbors within the vertical community. This shelter acts as a building block for the development of these communities, establishing lasting relationships between people who are often without friends and family.
The goal of this project is to rethink how we respond to homelessness while still addressing the need for urban density. The building’s underlying system allows it to fluctuate in size, enabling it to react to the population demand and monetary restrictions of the city. Paired with an open floor plan, the building allows the occupants to adapt each space to their specific needs and comfort. This design exemplifies how different demographics can be united within a city, catering to both the individual and the city’s needs.