Shelter for homeless individuals is a project co-initiated with SEENEO HOME, an interior design and decor studio based in Hangzhou. Led by Nettie Ni, this project is performed in collaboration with team members from UNSW and Taiwan Southeast University. Began with investigation of the homeless people and their living condition in hangzhou, primary research was conducted through a search and interviews with homeless individuals. By studying and speculating upon the current living conditions, government policies, and the needs of the homeless people in Hangzhou. The project wishes to create innovative architectural interventions both in the form of urban installation and a movable shelter. The project has undergone four stages of conceptual design and eventually settled upon the scheme of a mobile trolley. A movable home for homeless individuals to store their belongings, easily set up and store their tents and have a place to sit. The design wishes to maximise the comfort and convenience of the homeless individuals, and act against discrimination to restore dignity for homeless individuals. For us, they are urban campers rather than a ‘headache’ to the city.
Design Stage 1 & 2
The team has mapped out a scale of assistance to homeless individuals by the means of design. At early conceptual stages, we have come up with 4 projects for both public interventions and tent designs for individual homeless persons. Matthew’s scheme focuses on a foldable structure that functions both as a market space and also a temporary shelter for homeless people. Yicheng’s project speculates upon the possibilities of spatial transformation for public use underneath the overpass bridges, a space in which is the current shelter for many homeless individuals in Hangzhou.
My design of the ‘Plastic Bottle Tent’ is a conceptual response to the homeless individual’s habit and daily routines. After interviewing many localised homeless individuals, plastic bottle collection and recycling is a way of significant income. Many homeless individuals would get up around 3am in the morning to go to train stations, markets and various public spaces for bottle collection. Then spend the morning packaging and organising them for the recycling places. The income would allow them to survive in the city. The idea of the tent settles on the plastic bottles as a means of safety for the homeless individuals. By allowing them to use the tent as a fabric, a way of organising their plastic bottles and a way of protecting them from the cold in winter, the tent wishes to be a safe haven for them both physically and mentally. By using opaque fabric materials against different colours of the plastic bottles, the glow of warmth from the light inside the tent will bring the tent alive and therefore become a feature of the city. Different plastic bottles would give homeless individuals a different character. It is a tent which recognises their contribution to the city as a recycler and a celebration of their uniqueness through design interventions.
Design Stage 3 & 4
In later design stages the project settled upon a mobile trolley for homeless individuals. The trolley encompasses two compartments. Made out of opaque plastic panels and light metal frames, the trolley aims to be economic and lightweight for the homeless individuals. The top compartment is designed for storage of the tent, it is fixed to the metal frame structure of the trolley. At night, the tent can be unpacked and hung from the handle of the trolley. The bottom compartment is designed to slide outward and becomes a seat. Along with the assistance of the use of perforated metal panels, the trolley is designed for the homeless individuals to have more storage space at the bottom compartment. Items can be tightened to the trolley via elastic straps depending on the habit of the homeless individuals. At night, when the tent is hooked to the handle and the bottom compartment is slided outwards, the space underneath the top compartment becomes a private shelf for the homeless individual. The trolley is not designed only to be a storage compartment, it in fact aims to be a mobile home for the homeless person, allowing for the performance of sleeping, eating, seating and storage all in one mobile piece of furniture.