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homeless shelter

Found in his pocket.

I do not know how I find myself in such strange and bizarre situations.

I cooked dinner for my sisters last Thursday night and they left at 10pm.

At 10:30pm I received a call from Waverley Police Station.

Telephone script:

Police Officer: I am calling from Waverley Police Station, can you please confirm you are Nikita Sheth?

Me:  Yes, that is me. What has happened? Is everything ok?

(I start shaking, stomach churns and I feel like I am going to be sick….I think something has happened to my sisters. I then start to wonder whether I have recently engaged in any ‘illegal’ activity…unless, you include my ‘caroke’ – whereby i place my phone on my speedometer and film myself singing whilst driving the car…then not a chance…)

Police Officer:  We have a strange situation. A man has died in Bondi and we have found your drivers license in his pocket….

Me:  Oh my god. Is he ok?

Police Officer: No…I just said he died.

Me: Oh yes ofcourse…so what do I need to do?

Police:  We believe his death is not suspicious in anyway, it seems he was homeless and quite ill. Have you recently had ordered a new licence?

Me:  Yes, I lost my licence, so ordered a new one, but then found my old one…

Police:  Well, he must have stolen it from your letterbox. It is quite strange that he was carrying it around in his pocket. Anyway.. will you be at home in the next 20 mins? I can drop it around.

The police came and dropped back my license. I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking. I felt overwhelmed with emotion for this homeless stranger. I somehow felt connected to his death. He died with my face in his pocket.

I immediately make myself a warm milo and sit in the kitchen by myself just thinking…

Is this some weird omen? Was he going to sell my identity? How long had he been homeless and sick? Was he in pain when he died? Had he left loved ones behind?

I know it sounds morbid, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this homeless stranger.

Whenever I see a homeless person, my mind fills with questions. I can’t help myself, I always wonder what life events have led up to their current situation? What it would be like to live without a roof over your head? Without a sense of ‘home’. It really does make me feel sad. As I am writing this…I am honestly tearing up.

The rain. The cold. The noise. There is no protection.

We get so caught up in our ‘own dramas’ we often take our homes for granted. A place which offers us security and privacy. A place which protects us from the outside elements. A place where we can ‘let go’ of the day and temporarily escape the outside world. It doesn’t matter whether it is a mud hut or a mansion. To sleep with a roof over your head is a true blessing.

There is nothing pretty about homelessness, but it has a face and the faces of people without a home are just like yours and mine.

I just feel so helpless, last year I started volunteering to cook for the homeless once a month (Click here). I know there is so much more I can do, but I guess it is a starting point. Spending time with some of Sydney’s homeless, has presented me the opportunity and allowed me to gain a small insight into the struggles they have to fight daily. One thing that has really resonated with me was the deep irony embedded within homelessness – many of the homeless people feel invisible, yet they have no escape from the public eye. It is this ‘social invisibility’ that is so debilitating and inhumane.

Underpinning good design is finding solutions to problems. It is no wonder that designers all of the world are continually endeavouring to ‘solve’ issues associated with homelessness through addressing problems from a designers perspective. As the briefing for the DR:2-11 Homeless competition stated; “The question is what can design thinking do to contribute to averting homelessness, mitigating its effects and improving the daily life of those who are homeless and proposing different and longer term pathways to social inclusion, housing, and employment”

Check out this article from Fast Ci Design – a series of portraits that confront stereotypes and humanises the homelessness..
Also, check out this blog. It is raw, honest and written by a man that was homeless for five years.
” As a homeless person, I do not want someone to feed me. I do not want someone to house me. I do not want a blanket, and I will not work for food! You have to ask me what it is I need if you want to have an effect”

 homeless shelter


(Image via Architizer)

Vancouver-based studio Molo Design came up with their concept for an easily adaptable shelter back in July of 2011: their “softshelter” system relies on stretchable expanses of kraft paper that can form soft, pliable grids of personal space that click together with magnets or collapse into a series of flat, stackable forms when decommissioned. 

homeless shelter

(Image via Telegraph)

A designer has developed a home that fits in your pocket. The Basic House can be folded and carried around, before inflating to provide a temporary shelter for four people. Martin Azua from Barcelona has constructed the portable abode from metallic polyester. It inflates using body heat or warmth from the sun.

homeless shelter

(Image via Europa Concorsi)


WheelLY a portable, rolling cart+shelter for homeless design by ZO_loft. Mobile architecture

homeless shelter

(Image via Woo Home)

Bulgarian designer Georgi Djongarski makes an unique tent for homeless people. Called I-gloobox, It is made of thick fabric, which is connected together with a band attached to the aluminium of folding. I-gloobox is effective to ward off the cold during winter, and easy to maintenance. Each pocket contains a sufficient property for the needs of these vagabonds.

min tang

(Image via Tree Hugger)

“Folding Bamboo Houses ” – Ming Tang’s temporary shelters “origami inspired” They were developed as temporary shelters for the homeless after last May’s earthquake in China that left millions homeless.

homeless design


(Image via Design Buzz)

Tiny mobile homes that can easily be carried around by a single person, these Instant Housing Shelters by Urban Nomads consist of a metal container with a pop-out tent-like structure, fitted with wheels. The housing unit contains a retractable padded bed, a first aid kit, mirror, whistle, multi-tool, flashlight and a plastic hood with a viewing window.



(Image via Web Urbanist)

Many homeless people gather discarded materials that have value, like aluminium cans, in bags or shopping carts in order to make a little bit of money. Designers Barry Sheehan and Gregor Timlin re-imagined the potential uses of that cart, creating a large, highly visible yellow push-cart that also functions as a shelter.



(Image via Paul Elkin)

Portable and water-tight, this concept for homeless housing by Paul Elkin could  meet the demands of a certain segment of the homeless population that prefers to remain transient. Resembling an extremely compact version of an RV, this low-impact structure contains fold-away furniture, a mattress, a toilet, and even a kitchen.

homeless design

(Image via Web Urbanist)

The ‘Hopetel’ proposes a transient solution for the waves of newly homeless people who have lost their homes due to foreclosure, providing a stable environment while they attempt to get back on their feet.

So there you have it…my round up of cool temporary shelter designs…hopefully some day these prototypes will go into production.

Have a good week!