“How can we link Architecture to the homeless?” was the main question in the “Tiny Home Community Competition”, organised by “Activate14“, an American organisation. This was an initiative of the American Architecture Institute and the Center for Architecture and Design, aiming at empowering architecture’s social role.

The competition subject was the creation of a type of  of housing with specific characteristics that would host the homeless in Raleigh, North Carolina, US.

This idea is generated by the presence of homelessness throughout the globe. There is a pressing need in cities like Raleigh for affordable micro-dwellings to serve people without a stable dwelling place. Tiny home communities cannot eliminate poverty or homelessness, but they can create a more lively, caring, and diverse city. The goal is to generate innovative micro-housing communities that can repair and enliven our social fabric and help people transition out of homelessness.

This is also an opportunity for designers to explore and develop the following:

  • Affordable micro-housing to serve people whose lives are in transition
  • A community center and garden to support the housing
  • Modularity and prefabrication
  • An environment that includes natural ecology and sustainable lifestyles
  • Leftover city land as a resource for mending social and urban fabric
  • The role a dwelling can play in helping someone establish a sense of importance and home

Small-scale projects like tiny Homes should be embraced as part of a more systemic approach to solving homelessness. No single intervention, whether it comes from economists, community organizers, architects, or scientists, is enough but a bunch of good ones can help show the way.

Maria Christoulia, Alexandros Valsamidis and Stratis Skopelitis, co-founders of “Riza3architects” and members of “ΑΕΝΑΟΣ Α.Τ.Ε.” submitted their proposal and received the first award among more than 100 other submissions from around the world.

“In Greece, homelessness is a daily issue and that is why we decided to submit a proposal and work on a serious matter on a Greek and global level” said Stratis Skopelitis.

The Greek proposal:

The architects designed a community open to nearby areas and supportive of urban networks. The community is made of four neighbourhoods, with three houses each. The communal building is placed centrally on the land and houses a kitchen, an activity area, a study area,a bookcase, changing rooms and bathrooms. Around the buildings are small patches, which will be maintained by the residents.

All the buildings in the community have been designed according to bioclimatic architecture, are low cost and can be stored, moved or enlarged in order to greatly minimise their energy footprint.

The low cost and innovation of the Greek proposal have driven the competition organisers and the town’s local authorities to search for funding in order to materialise it and welcome the town’s homeless.

Source: Activate14, Eirinika.