L.A. County and areas surrounding it are going through a severe homeless crisis, and the problem has intensified in recent years. In 2017, 55,000 people in L.A. county were classified as homeless, a large jump from the estimated 38,700 in 2010. This is also evident in suburbs and other cities surrounding the metro area, including Burbank and Pasadena, where I attend school. The situation affects low-income communities the most, and these often include areas damaged by drug addiction crises. Skid Row, a famous area downtown lined with tents and other homeless settlements, has become a very visible symbol of homelessness in L.A., the United States, and the world.
In 2017, the homeless population soared to 55,000, a massive increase over the 38,700 people in 2010, a very large number in itself.
- UN Sustainable Goals
- Primary: Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities: The homeless crisis has reduced this population’s ability to live and work in a healthy environment. With more efficient housing implemented, there will be a great deal more of economic production and productivity. Sustainable materials are also used in the construction
- Secondary: Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities: People who are living on the streets and other temporary places need a home so they can make a living for themselves. This will help reduce the income gap between areas and the people that live in them.
- Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth: With new housing, people will have the opportunity to work in a stable environment, with a stable place to return to and live their lives.
Mission: The goal of the housing is to provide a safe space for homeless individuals and families in the interim between jobs and problems in life. The vision is a self-sufficient one, where the community coos its own food and provides services for the residents.
The goal for my project is to design a structure that promotes the elimination of homelessness through architectural practices. These include strengthening the community through design features, like a continuous corridor that promotes unity. Circular tables in the dining hall encourages residents to communicate and socialize, helping them understand one another better. Communal gardens facilitate the growth of plants and vegetables that can be used for cooking in the kitchen.
A view of the structure from the southwest. Flat roofs promote even heating from sunlight and equal heat distribution into rooms during hot L.A. summers. Rectangular windows let natural light into the bedrooms, and large skylights in the mess hall allow natural light to filter into the dining area. Sloped sides of the roof allow a higher ceiling for the dining space, and creates a sense of hope and optimism because of the high ceilings. Solar panels lining the roof increase reliance on green and renewable energy, an important dimension to the eco-friendly housing. My vision of the building was rectangular, in order to fit as much material into the given space.
The interior of the housing is based of modular design, and the bedrooms, lobby, and kitchen are designed to be built in a modular fashion. The entire building revolves around the dining hall, both physically and symbolically. The space serves as a meeting space and dining space, and the podium and raised space allow residents to make announcements. Each of the ten bedrooms are identical for the most part, and encourage customization by the user. Study rooms located in the southwest corner of the building (left side of the dining hall) encourage work and productivity, a quiet place for people to take care of personal work. A lobby with couches is intended for an open feel that welcomes both visitors and residents into the building. The kitchen, positioned directly next to the lobby, allows for easy entrance and egress into the buildings. A corridor encircles the entire interior of the building, allowing the individual to access any space in the building along one path.
- I envisioned using a composite material in the walls of the structure, as this would encourage heat flow and dispersion evenly through the building. Using recycled materials in the frame lessens the carbon footprint, reducing the building’s impact on climate change. This material is also cheaper than some of its compatriots, allowing for more material purchase on a tighter budget.
- Solar panels allow the facility to generate its own energy and act as an independent system, partially separate from the energy grid. A smaller carbon footprint is also part of the goal.
- Wood has a homely feel like no other, and lining floors of the bedroom with wood is extremely important for the atmosphere. Responsible planting and regeneration of trees will be implemented.
- Kitchens function the best when tiles, as the resilient surface resists scratches and other types of wear and tear that go along with cooking. Tiling will also be used on the dining hall walls because of its durability.
- The entire exterior will be covered in a composite material with a hydrophobic covering, in order to promote water runoff when it rains.
Call to Action: My sincere hope is that you have learned something by viewing my project, and that you know see the homeless crisis in a different light. Building structures that respect the dignity of the community and help educate people are very important, and I truly wish everyone takes something away from this. Through architecture and the real world effects in can create, I hope to make Los Angeles and residences across the world a better place.
Survey for project improvement:
Viewer Map! Please show where you’re from. It’s great to know that people across the world are participating.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank my entire architecture class and my teacher, Mr. Ken Schwartz. Thank you to everyone who I’ve called over the course of the class for journals and assignments, and I really appreciate all those who helped me in the tech questions feed on Twist. A special thank you goes out to Maya Kohrman and Ina Aram, the amazing members of my cadre who have helped me so much with feedback on my project. Mr. Schwartz has also devoted a great deal of time to helping me with my structure and what it means to be an architect.
Google doc with more detailed work: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N5GwhXC58DtWBF38SJGm-ipABqH8eBbLNLAV2-KnxTA/edit
Map of the homeless population: http://www.trbimg.com/img-558076c8/turbine/la-homeless-map-20150616/
- Inspiration for project