This paper was written for "Survey of Modern & Postmodern Architecture & Design," a graduate course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It explored an urban laneway located behind the apartment building where I lived in Chicago. A concrete slab located to the side of this laneway became an ad hoc encampmet for the local homeless population. This ever-changing arrangement of cardboard boxes, plastic tarps, blankets, cast off furniture and clothing, shopping carts, and food scraps was a temporal shelter that housed a changing cast of people who inhabited the space day and night.

This object and its function as an anchor to this community was the basis for questioning how objects can be used as interventions for providing short-term and, perhaps, long term solutions to homelessness in our cities. The paper discusses examples of innovative solutions from designers across the globe who are considering ways to make viable, short-turnaround housing available to the homeless. They are rethinking form, materiality and site. And while not always meant as an optimal solution, their design initiatives are intended to meet the immediate need and deal with the issue at a very direct, grassroots level. The thesis of this paper was that is kind of bold design is needed at a larger scale where more people can be helped.

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