Madworkshop Fosters a Solution to the Emergency Housing Crisis

Shelter Squared by Madworkshop. Image by Jeremy Carman and Jayson Champlain/courtesy of Madworkshop.

The need for emergency housing is reaching epic proportions. Not just in earthquake-, fire-, and mudslide-prone California, where this project originates, but also globally. But, Madworkshop, a nonprofit architecture and design foundation in Los Angeles focusing on social and technological innovation, has fostered a solution. Shelter Squared by Madworkshop fellows Jeremy Carman and Jayson Champlain offers eating, sleeping, and lockable storage areas in a 50-square-foot enclosure that can be erected in as little as 15 minutes. “It distills shelter to the absolute minimum,” Madworkshop founder and architect David Martin states.

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Shelter Squared by Madworkshop. Photography by Buddy Bleckley/courtesy of Madworkshop.

“It’s a humane, efficient solution to emergency housing situations.”

Lightweight, waterproof panels of recyclable laminated cardboard tilt together and are held in place with Velcro strips. Each unit provides benches with under-seat storage, a table that converts to a bed, and privacy curtains, and stands on a clean cardboard base. Assembled, Shelter Squared can be used individually or grouped. When not in use, it all gets flat-packed to roughly the dimensions of a king-size mattress and weighs just 50 pounds—imagine hundreds of them stored in a school gymnasium or community center.

Shelter Squared by Madworkshop. Image by Jeremy Carman and Jayson Champlain/courtesy of Madworkshop.

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