streetURCHIN: an URBAN TENT FOR THE HOMELESS
various locations. 2007-present

streetURCHIN MANUAL

This project started with an invitation to exhibit work in the Pass It On: Connecting Contemporary Do-It-Yourself Culture exhibition hosted by the A+D Gallery in Chicago.  In response, the IDC worked with a team of students at UL Lafayette to design and construct an urban tent for Chicago’s homeless that was safer, drier, warmer and more portable than the cardboard tenements currently deployed, using only discarded materials and simple methods of construction.

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Although programmatically simple, the distinct client, strict budget ($0) and tight timetable (five weeks) challenged our design team to create a method of working that would allow us to move seamlessly between acts of design and construction.   The eventual product of these efforts, affectionately called Street Urchin by its creators, uses simple, repetitive techniques to produce a completely watertight and easily transported shelter from nothing more than discarded plastic shopping bags, rubber bands, and used water bottles.

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In order to disseminate their findings to the widest audience possible and encourage others to build upon their work, our team created a small, pocket-sized manual that uses simple graphics and photos to describe our twelve-step construction process.  We then sent hundreds of these booklets to the A+D Gallery of Chicago as well as a local art gallery, where patrons to these venues were invited to take a copy, build alternative versions of the work, enter into the issues faced by the homeless, and get involved in finding a more permanent solution.

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+  Since its completion, several peer-reviewed venues have selected the streetURCHIN for presentation, including the 2007 Icsid/IDSA WORLD DESIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE and the 2007 TECTONICS MAKING MEANING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE hosted by the University of Technology in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and SPOT Gallery in Proznan, Poland.  A March 2008 article in Interior Design Magazine highlighting innovative design practices, featured the streetURCHIN along with projects by Kengo Kuma & Associates, OMA, Buckminister Fuller and the Arcosanti urban laboratory. []

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FUNDING SUPPORT:
International Design Clinic

PARTNERS:
International Design Clinic
University of Louisiana at Lafayette