Almost Home


Winter is fast approaching, the nights are drawing in, and it feels great to come home out of the cold. This winter we are revisiting what was one of the most exciting competitions we have held, and inviting you again to design for the homeless.

There is a bit of a twist this year however…. after being in touch with several homeless charities we have heard something important- these organisations on the whole don’t simply exist to try and alleviate the suffering of homeless people, but instead fight to get them off the streets and rehabilitated.

It’s a temptation as designers to just think of clever ways to make homeless people more comfortable and safe, and last year we saw some great and provocative entries along that theme, but that’s not what the aim is this year, which makes things a little harder! The solutions for rehabilitation are very often down to good government policy making, funding, and the hard work of lots of caring people – but can good and intelligent design stimulate this rehabilitation process?

 We think that good design can have a profound effect on people, and so it follows that design can be an integral part of helping rehabilitate homeless people.

The Challenge

We are asking you to design for the rehabilitation of homeless people this winter in a city setting. This means not simply making them more comfortable for a short time, but thinking of more long term solutions that focus on how they can re-integrate with others and rejoin society. Things you might consider in your design include community, security, interaction, integration, urban fabric, urban significance, independence and interdependance. Your solution should be mainly architectural or product based.

This Competition supported the work of the homeless charity Shelter

Entry Archive

All entries are available to view and comment on our Facebook page.

Winning Entry

Sarah Crowley, Melbourne Australia –

 This project explores a long-term solution to housing and rehabilitating homeless individuals & families. Homeless people often congregate in cities because of the infrastructure & resources available. They tend to appropriate under-used & empty spaces for living. To link in with this concept, it seemed logical to design a long-term solution to homelessness using vacant plots of land in cities. There is a lot of neglected land in & around cities throughout the world, so… let’s use these sites to re-integrate the homeless!!
The site explored in this project is a 1km strip of currently neglected land abutting the city grid of Melbourne, Australia. A train line runs through the site, making it problematic for housing, so I designed a bridge that covers the train line, which effectively reduces the noise and vibration of the trains, but also helps to increase porosity and permeability of the site.

Honourable Mentions

Joana Torres, from Portugal ( )

WIN_Wash It Now
Hygiene is extremely important in society. Hygiene routines are basic measures to reduce diseases and elevate the sense of well being and social acceptance.
A network of Community Cleaning Centers throughout the city allows the homeless to take regular hygiene habits, receive hygiene provisions and get informed. Access to basic hygienic facilities is one step forward in re-integration with the society.

Tane and Taylor Um; siblings from Toronto Canada, currently in Seoul South Korea.  Tane studied architecture at Carleton University and Taylor studied philosophy at the University of Western Ontario.

After reading the competition brief, we were reminded of a sociological study by Annette Lareau where she coined the term “concerted cultivation”.  This study focused on the childrearing of lower and middle class families, and we suspected that there were relevant elements in this line of thought that may have an influence on the successful rehabilitation of the homeless as well as those who lived below the poverty line.

Concerted cultivation refers to a parenting technique Lareau observed in middle and upper class parents.  Specifically, it involved a continuous intervention in the child’s education and social life.  Although the results were not black and white, she concluded that there was an overall effect that this style of parenting had on the child’s social prowess in social situations involving formality and structure. We were concerned that the homeless therefore, would be uncomfortable with interacting with power structures as well as bureaucracy.  If the homeless were engendered to be intimidated by the process of discovering the opportunities and the full range of services available to them, then these are the disadvantages we wanted to address in our project.

There is a burgeoning movement in Toronto that advocates free public transportation, or a ‘zero-fare’ transit system, and it occurred to us that this might be the solution.  Those that live below the poverty line can not afford public transit fare, so we decided a zero-fare monorail would accomplish two critical objectives: giving the homeless the mobility they desperately need as well as raising the homeless issue above the street level, moving what was once invisible into plain view.  From this perspective, the millions spent on outreach programs are misguided.  We can simply speed these disadvantaged populations to the services they require to achieve rehabilitation.

David Sharp, Anuar Azahari from A Workshop, working out Perth, Australia. ( )

We live in a very superficial society, one that can fail to see past the visible signs of homelessness. This creates tremendous disadvantage to those who already have the fewest opportunities. The problem of providing essential modern amenities to the homeless must be addressed. While homeless people in Perth can’t have a shower, treat a cut or communicate in the digital age, every attempt at re-integration will be hindered.

Our initial approach was to consult representatives of homeless support groups, who explained that while they are able to provide some necessities to the homeless, they simply don’t have the people-power to effectively distribute them when and where they are needed. We saw automation as the solution to this problem. Once we identified the need for exclusivity across this infrastructure, the Street-Aid database and card were logical conclusions.  We focused on the potential for this card to empower the homeless to take positive steps in their life as part of community.

The brief spoke of re-integration as a process, asking how design can act as a catalyst. Our understanding is that the day to day struggles of sleeping rough must be overcome before processes such as government policy/funding etc. can be truly effective. Hopefully our concept will encourage others to explore new ways in which we can streamline the distribution of resources to the homeless.

UbaanArchitect-  Thanawin Wijitporn, Kamalard Sudlumlerd, Weruya Wiriya and Jiraporn Suhom from Chiangmai,Thailand. ( U-Baan Architect : อยู่-บ้าน สถาปนิก )
Homeless can affect anyone. Some group of people are more likely to become homeless due to their support need or particular barriers they facing getting accommodation.
So,this project explores a long term solution to housing and rehabilitating homeless  individual and families. Homeless doesn’t mean people who don’t have shelter or house. Their house are around the world. They appropriate under used spaces and empty spaces.Link to concept moveable and sustainable design that will remain useful and significant in cities.We design moveable shelter that easy to setting and keeping. Green space in shelter can useful for themselves and have a profound effect on people. If they integrate shelter to temporary community,they can live together,sharing facility,talking with each other,this is the main idea that make them re-integrate with society.

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