The dream of a home in the suburbs with a white picket fence is changing. Between housing crises and homelessness, mounting debt and downsizing, home ownership has become increasingly less attainable. The tiny house movement is a direct response to these forces, with cities and designers asking whether micro dwellings can address pressing issues or if they are glorifying unhealthy living conditions.
Homelessness: The Latest Architecture and News
Morris + Company has unveiled images of their competition-winning vision addressing London’s homelessness crisis. The M+C scheme, produced for the New Horizon Youth Center and Mayor of London-led competition, repurposes the abandoned York Road tube station into a hostel and co-working space.
Titled “Stepping Stones”, the project seeks to provide “an inclusive, viable, and holistic site strategy that can support a managed and balanced community by providing homeless young residents with a sage, supporting stepping-stone into appropriate long-term housing solutions.”
The Royal Institute of British Architects has awarded the 2018 RIBA President’s Medal for Research to Chris Hildrey of Hildrey Studio for ProxyAddress: Using Location Data to Reconnect Those Facing Homelessness with Support Services. Hildrey’s project addresses one of the main causes of homelessness in the UK: the end of an ‘assured short-hold tenancy’, where a landlord is legally entitled to issue a possession order. ProxyAddress tackles this issue through collaborative research and real-world application.
Los Angeles-based KTGY Architecture + Planning’s Research and Development studio has unveiled an idea to reuse millions of square feet of empty retail stores as housing for the homeless. The “Re-Habit” concept calls for the installation of bathrooms, dining, sleeping, gardening, and job training facilities, transforming obsolete big-box stores into agents of social change.
The concept comes at a time when vast big box stores such as Macy’s, JC Penney, and Sears are closing in record numbers, leaving large vacant footprints throughout the urban landscape.
In the last global survey undertaken by the United Nations in 2005, there were an estimated 100 million people who were homeless around the world and 1.6 billion who lived without adequate housing. This number has escalated in recent years; unaffordable housing has become a global norm, making it increasingly difficult for the disadvantaged to seek out permanent, or even temporary shelter.
As housing becomes a means of accumulating wealth rather than fulfilling its fundamental goal of shelter, well-intentioned architects have attempted to solve the homelessness crisis through creative ideas and innovative design. But is architecture really the solution?
Homelessness is a pressing issue faced by many cities across the globe. But, could the logistics of parking potentially assist in alleviating this epidemic by supporting community-based initiatives?
In Los Angeles County, where an estimated 58,000 people are homeless, city and county officials recently released six meters designed in collaboration between community advocacy organization the Flintridge Centre and the office of City Council member Jose Huizar to collect charitable contributions as opposed to parking fairs.
Aggravated by limited upward mobility and a dire housing crisis, LA County’s homeless population has shot up 23 percent to nearly 58,000 in the past year alone, according The Los Angeles Times. Their increased visibility recently guilted voters into passing (by a two-thirds majority) a sales tax increase (Measure H) and a $1.2 billion bond initiative (Measure HHH) to provide housing and amenities. With the city now better financially equipped to tackle the problem, a new issue arises: what to build?
In recent years, the architectural community has become heavily involved, in both positive and negative ways, with the chronic global issue of homelessness. In response, James Furzer of UK-based Spatial Design Architects has undertaken a photographic analysis exploring defensive forms of urban design. Using the typology of public benches in London, Furzer documents public fixtures which act as deterrents to rough sleepers, essentially denying a right to the city for those who ultimately have no choice but to be there.
With ever-increasing rates of chronic and veteran homelessness amongst low-income households, Los Angeles’ pressing demand for affordable social housing is being addressed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, with their design of MLK1101 Supportive Housing, which has just begun construction.
Working in collaboration with non-profit Clifford Beers Housing, LOHA’s intention is to focus on health and community within a comfortable environment. This is achieved through a number of strategies, including exposing the building towards the street to integrate the building into the neighborhood creating strong community ties.
In the United States alone, more than 125 million plastic bottles are discarded each day, 80 percent of which end up in a landfill. This waste could potentially be diverted and used to construct nearly 10,000, 1200-square-foot homes (taking in consideration it takes an average of 14,000 plastic bottles to build a home that size). Many believe this process could be a viable option for affordable housing and even help solve homelessness.