If you’ve recently driven the streets of Los Angeles, you’ve probably noticed a striking uptick in the city’s already huge homeless population. Encampments are still centered in downtown’s Skid Row, but many more tents, shopping carts, and makeshift shelters are popping up on sidewalks, in parks, near overpasses, and under and over bridges throughout the city. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority recently reported an 11 percent jump in the city’s overall homeless population, and L.A. officials have placed $1.2 billion bond measure HHH on the November 8 ballot, which would finance 8,000 to 10,000 units over 10 years for the chronically homeless.
In response to this ominous situation, USC’s School of Architecture, located just a few miles from Skid Row, recently launched the Homeless Studio, where 11 fourth year students are rethinking homeless architecture, building temporary, moveable, modular, and expandable structures that are strikingly imaginative, not to mention needed. The best part: students will deliver their finished structures to homeless people around the city, and their final project will become a prototype shelter for a homeless services agency in the San Fernando Valley.
“These guys just went nuts,” says USC Lecturer Sofia Borges, who leads the studio with co-instructor R. Scott Mitchell. She’s referring to her students’ excitement about building varying-sized structures, rather than the typical student models and renderings. […]