Skip to Main Content

Homelessness Charrette : Panel 2 & Closing remarks (January 11, 2019)01:22:06

Panel Discussion 2

Moderator Frances Anderton describes this panel as an opportunity for architects currently working in public housing to discuss their take on the politics, policies, communities, design issues related to building solutions to homelessness.

Kevin Hirai describes the for-profit, permanent supportive housing provided by Flyaway Homes. He characterizes their approach as client-centric, respecting the client and the community. They have been using shipping containers to create economical multi-unit housing, as in a 33-person development for $3 million. Hirai affirms that the solution to homelessness is homes.

Lorcan O’Herlihy describes how good design goes a long way to overcome community resistance to housing projects. He argues that projects should engage with multiple issues, including sustainability, materiality, and context. Anderton points out that O’Herlihy, like many other architects in L.A., work with non-profit developers, producing innovative and humane living environments.

Deborah Weintraub describes some of the housing-related projects of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering, in which they have been innovating ways of expediting delivery and getting people off the street as quickly as possible. She describes their use of sprung tents and portables, and their efforts to create community-building strategic voids.

Carlos Zedillo challenges the charrette participants to stop thinking of people experiencing homelessness as problems, but to realize they are clients. He describes the context of Mexico, where 50% live on less than $2 per day. He stresses that free housing isn’t the answer: client involvement is essential. Pienza Sostenible has been able to construct houses for $10,000 US each. He discusses a project in San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca, to replace homes destroyed by the 2017 Puebla earthquake, with designers brought in to work directly with clients. He concludes with a video about this project at 1:08:19 to 1:11:50.

Closing Remarks

At 1:17:34, SCI-Arc program heads comment on the charrette:

Elena Manferdini affirms that the charrette is an opportunity for students to have their ideas heard by the most incredible people in the city.

Tom Wiscombe hopes that the conversations that have been taking place about what the problem is, what the function of the city is, what the function of design is can be continued. He advises students to have no shyness about talking about aesthetics in such a culturally loaded context.

David Ruy characterizes the charrette as an impressive gift from the school, and anticipates that some of the proposals from non-experts, approaching problems without prejudices and preconceptions, will prove extremely valuable.