These are 92 sq. ft. Student-Built Housing Pods for the Homeless.
In a city with a vacancy rate of 2%, countless plots of land remain underutilized across Los Angeles. Homes for Hope activates this unused land to provide modular, transitional stabilization housing for immediately sheltering the city’s homeless. Installed or dismantled in two weeks or less, Homes for Hope easily reconfigures and adapts to a range of site conditions. The stackable 92 square foot units aggregate into 30-bed communities. The base modules combine to form communal spaces, bathroom facilities, outdoor terraces, and courtyards. Homes for Hope offers an affordable and empowering solution for rapidly rehousing our city’s most vulnerable – the first step on one’s journey home.
Student-Built Housing Pods for the Homeless
A class of USC students have designed a portable pod that aims to shelter the unhoused. The project, called Homes for Hope, is akin to an outsized homework assignment. And indeed it is a project that was undertaken by 11 fourth-year architectural students in a class taught by instructors Sofia Borges and R. Scott Mitchell. The whole endeavor was funded through MADWORKSHOP, a non-profit that supports innovative student projects.
The pods represent a mindful and integrated approach to design. On the surface they look sleek and purposefully-built, not drab and starkly utilitarian. Inside, the 92-square-feet that’s available is maximized for space, but also touched with some liveliness to make it welcoming. The designers achieved this by placing operable windows on both sides of the room. The back wall, which juts out like a bent elbow, has the effect of making the space seem more expansive. And, as Borges and Mitchell said in a joint message to LAist, the sense of spaciousness was additionally bolstered by “custom built-in furniture with places to rest, work, and store your belongings.” The designers also chose “light colored materials to enhance the atmosphere inside the space.”
All of this is to say that the pods aren’t merely a way station for the homeless, but a space to be comfortable in, too. While the pods are expected to be temporary living accommodations, they don’t give off that depressing air of haste and disregard. Beyond the aesthetics, they’re also practical in more ways than one. As noted at Fast Company Design, the pods are modular, meaning they can be repurposed as a bathroom unit, or a small office. And with the materials and labor factored in, each pod is estimated to cost about $25,000 (that’s about the same price as a base model sedan).
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Natalie C. McKee
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