AIA Design Competition Creates Portable, Temporary Housing for the Homeless

Selected Design to be built at AIA Convention and Donated to a local non-profit partner

Washington, D.C. – May 15, 2015 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Small Project Practitioners (SPP) Knowledge Community developed “A SAFE PLACE” design competition, asking architects and architecture students to design a discreet, compact and efficient shelter for the homeless. The goal of this design competition is to develop a simple, safe and secure place for an individual to sleep and secure their belongings.

Competition participants had the option to submit a design in any of the following categories: (A) Un-Secured Shelter, (B) Semi-Secure Shelter and (C) Shared Facility (none selected).  All submissions were required to be: (1) Inexpensive to construct –under $500 a unit, (2) easily constructed without specialized equipment, (3) Temporary, with no foundation or any other way of tying the shelter to the earth, and (4) Protect the occupant from the elements, through all seasons. You can learn more about this program and these designs here:

Competition Award Recipient

Rolling Shelter (Category A: Un-Secured Shelter)
Eduardo Lacroze, AIA
Lacroze-Miguens-Prati Arquitectos

The shelter utilizes a shopping cart as a core component and means of transportation.  With saddlebags for storage on one side and the other consisting of a foldout shelter, the entire unit can be easily transported.   In shelter mode, it gives a structured enclosure that incorporates usage and storage within an insulated, weatherproofed and vandal protected shell. The shelter can be assembled with a screwdriver with does not require any advanced building knowledge.  The unit is equipped with a dual rolling Thermarest pad and built-in floor liner that coupled to the high R-value of the component panels themselves, provide adequate levels of thermal insulation. 

This project will be constructed at the 2015 AIA National Convention in Atlanta and be on display on the expo floor.  After the convention, it will be donated to the local non-profit, The Mad Housers, for use by their clients and program participants.  For images of this project, please contact Email Contact.

Honorable Mentions

Bankhead Box-Up (Category B: Semi-Secured Shelter)

Gregory Tsark, AIA, and Jessica Boudreaux
Tsark Architecture, LLC

An elevated box provides a sense of security, rather than resting at or near the ground level. The space beneath provides weather protection for a bicycle or other items. The box area is eight feet long, five feet wide and six feet tall. Polycarbonate side panels provide ample daylighting while obscuring visibility for semi-privacy. Full privacy can be easily added with interior curtains. Security is achieved by locking down the top plank with a padlock and hasp. In the warmer months, upper planks may be removed to provide ventilation.

Sheltering Chicago (Category B: Semi-Secured Shelter)
Jeff Bone, AIA
Landon Bone Baker Architects

The shelter is intended to provide basic protection for one person. It will help keep them alive in extreme weather, providing a safe and secure temporary home in which to sleep and store a few personal belongings. The shelters are portable and can be transported around the city to available sites on a flatbed truck or trailer.  The shelter module lends itself easily to be set up as a toilet room, food pantry, etc. when facilities are otherwise unavailable. This low threshold alternative to traditional ‘emergency shelter’ housing allows advocates and non-profits to focus on critical outreach, connecting the homeless with services and permanent housing.

The 2015 AIA SPP Small Project Design Competition Jury includes: Nick Hess, The Mad Housers; William Carpenter, FAIA, Lightroom; Bart Shaw, Shaw Architects ( Winner of the 2014 SPP Pop-Up); Joe A, Mad Housers Client and Doug Hannah, AIA, Young Architects Forum representative.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit

Matt Tinder
Email Contact

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