DESIGNING THE HOMELESS CITY WITH DIGNITY recognising the complex needs of rough sleepers and the holistic approach required to reintegrate them back into society
DESIGNING THE HOMELESS CITY WITH DIGNITY: recognising the complex needs of rough sleepers and the holistic approach required to reintegrate them back into society
By Tanya Haldipur A Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of BA in Architecture 2018 150268626 Tutor: Carlos Calderon ARC3060 Dissertation in Architectural Studies 8300 words approximately
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would to thank my tutor Carlos Calderon for his constant advice and support throughout the dissertation process. I also would like to thank both James Furzer and Tina Hovsepian who took the time and effort to answer my questions about their projects, as well as Tamsen Courtenay, who gave me the confidence to begin the interview process. Additionally, I want to give my warmest thanks to all of the participants who shared their personal experiences of homelessness with me and to Shreeya Patel for her support.
CONTENTS Introduction 6 - 11 Introducing the issue Why it is not simply a “crisis of occupancy status” How existing temporary housing solutions are failing to bridge the gap
Chapter 2 - Architectural precedents
12 - 23
‘Homes for the Homeless’ - James Furzer ‘Carborigami’ - Tina Hovsepian
Chapter 3 - Case study of Newcastle
24 - 35
Purpose The city Participants The interview process The narratives
Chapter 4 - Results 60 - 69 Theme 1 - The absence of dignity on the streets Theme 2 - How ‘fake’ rough sleepers are preventing those in need from accessing help Theme 3 - How shelters are failing as a place of refuge
Chapter 5 - Discussion and concluding points
70 - 81
List of illustrations 82 - 83 Bibliography 84 - 85 Appendix A 86 - 93 Appendix B 94 - 98
The humanitarian architect of today must realise that the process is at least as
important as the product.
Introducing the issue In cities, with rapidly rising house prices and a growing population, no longer being able to afford rent in the private rented sector has become the primary reason for people being rendered homeless. Many also find themselves on the streets due to life events, e.g. familial conflicts, “losing a job, mental or physical health problems, or substance misuse”1 (fig. 1.1).
With the economy being so tumultuous, growing numbers of middle-class people are finding themselves homeless. Employment is such a turbulent cycle and yet, the idea that homeless people deserve their plight, still exists. They are treated like outsiders in the very cities that they used to work in, simply because they now do not have a home to return to; thus, even if provisionally, the public spaces of the city become their home. But, what kind of a home is it in reality?
Alice Min Soo Chun and Irene E Brisson, Ground Rules In Humanitarian Design (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), p. 215. 1 “About Homelessness | Crisis | Together We Will End Homelessness”, Crisis<https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending0
have physical health problems
suffer from mental health issues
women are sexually assaulted
more likely to be victims of violence than the general public
people were estimated to be homeless in England in 2016 (SHELTER)
the average age of death of a homeless person is
the average age of death of general population is
8 fig. 1.3
Homelessness is a global issue that is seen in a variety of forms with the most visible being rough sleeping (fig 1.2).
The Department for Communities and Local Governments has estimated a 57% increase in rough sleepers in England between 2010 and 2016, using a single night snapshot taken annually in Autumn2. Accurate figures can be difficult to obtain, as many rough sleepers do not stay in the same position for more than a few hours. But this data does portray the general upward trend occurring, which is a major point for concern. Long periods of rough sleeping are known to have significant impact on one’s mental and physical wellbeing and can lead to ‘complex needs’, which Crisis defines as any “additional mental and physical health needs, substance misuse issues” and criminal offenses3 . As complexity of needs increases, the harder it is for them to get off the streets.
Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, England (London: Department for Communities and Local Government, 2017), p. 1 <https://www.gov.uk/ government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585713/Rough_ Sleeping_Autumn_2016_Statistical_Release.pdf> 3 “Rough Sleepers And Complex Needs | Crisis | Together We Will End Homelessness”, Crisis<https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/roughsleeping/rough-sleepers-and-complex-needs/> 2
Why it is not simply a “crisis of occupancy status”4 Britain is going through a housing crisis, yet data shows there are over 200,000 empty homes across the country, possibly due to inheritance issues or owners who hope that its value will increase overtime5 . But, even if these properties were available, it would not solve the homeless crisis. In a perfect world, everyone would have access to permanent housing, but for rough sleepers, it is not that simple as their complex needs can mean they do not know how to manage their own place6 . The charity Crisis holds a unique ‘Renting Ready’ course, which “allows learners to develop their understanding of essential independent living skills and learn how to demonstrate their ability to find and keep a future home”7 . But the question is where do rough sleepers stay while undertaking these courses?
How existing temporary housing solutions are failing to bridge the gap Analysis of accounts from rough sleepers indicates that their experiences of hostels are largely negative for a number of reasons that are explored within the study. Due to the increasing numbers of homeless people in cities, many hostels have been designed communally and are becoming progressively overcrowded. This results in minimal privacy, which overtime may lead to a range of mental health issues8 . Furthermore, beds in these shelters tend to be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis and those with substance addictions are not filtered out. This leads to exceedingly hostile and unsafe environments, especially for women, who are often “frightened both by the violence that frequently flares in them and by the very real risk of sexual assault in mixed dormitories.”9 These conditions mean that some people prefer to stay on the streets.
Alice Min Soo Chun and Irene E Brisson, Ground Rules In Humanitarian Design (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), p. 92. 5 ”Home”, Emptyhomes.com <http://www.emptyhomes.com/> 6 Phone conversation with Tamsin Courtnay, writer of Four Feet Under, 12th October 2017 7 ”Renting Ready”, Crisis <https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/ housing-resource-centre/renting-ready/> 8 Full House? How Overcrowded Housing Affects Families (London, 2005), p. 22 <https://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/39532/Full_ house_overcrowding_effects.pdf> 9 Paul Cloke, Jon May and Sarah Johnsen, Swept Up Lives (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2011), p. 157. 4
This study looks at alternate ways of approaching temporal housing solutions, which focus more on rough sleepers’ direct needs, by providing interventions within existing street locations. Two key precedents, Homes for the Homeless and Cardborigami, are analysed. These precedents were both designed within the last 20 years and thus most sources came from online reviews and articles. In order to obtain in-depth information on the designs, direct interviews were carried out with the original architects, James Furzer and Tina Hovsepian, to understand, from their point of view, the design intent and its strengths and weaknesses. Due to the nature of the topic, it was crucial that the main body of work was informed by primary sources.
In subsequent chapters, the case study of Newcastle is introduced, which was used to gain first-hand qualitative research on rough sleepers’ experiences. The existing body of literature has not yet studied cities like Newcastle. For example, ‘Designing for the homeless – Architecture that works’, by Sam Davis refers to a selection of precedents in American cities, which have very different ecological considerations to Newcastle, as well as different climates, population densities and wealth. Hence, this existing literature may not be useful as any information extrapolated from other parts of the world would not be entirely generalisable in informing site-specific interventions. The results from this research suggests that action needs to be taken in providing emergency shelters on the streets, rather than trying to house them instantly, due to a range of complex requirements that require a holistic approach. The purpose of the study in Newcastle was to identify what these requirements are and the role that architecture may have in mitigating some of the negative aspects, while they seek services to help them become permanently housed.
It’s not providing a complete solution to homelessness, it is however creating an instant, temporary solution, that is able to inject a sense of self-worth to those who require it.
CHAPTER 2 - ARCHITECTURAL PRECEDENTS This chapter analyses two architectural precedents of on-street interventions for rough sleepers. Strengths and limitations are analysed to determine whether this form of architecture would be a better approach than current shelters, in bridging the gap between sleeping on the streets and being permanently housed.
‘Homes for the Homeless’ by James Furzer
fig. 2.1 - External render by James Furzer
James Furzer’s homeless pod design based in London, stemmed from his interest in defensive architecture, which is used to discourage rough sleepers from occupying public areas by hiding “behind a façade of functionality and form”11 . With no home to go to and the streets becoming increasingly unwelcome, where are rough sleepers supposed to go? This question led to his design. He envisions “cityscapes that… provide shelter within them”12 , creating “a community of homeless individuals that live seamlessly within the ‘normal community’, safely, visibly and with acceptance.”13 He therefore proposed to create “modular parasitic sleeping pods that can be attached to the side of any host building or structure, allowing a safe haven for the homeless during a nights rest.”14 (Fig 2.1) James Furzer, Interview with James furzer (Istanbul, 2017). James Furzer, “The Bench - Hostile Architecture” (unpublished Undergraduate, University of Greenwich, 2017). 12 Jessica Mairs, “James Furzer To Crowdfund Sleeping Pods For London Homeless”, Dezeen, 2017 <https://www.dezeen.com/2015/08/19/jamesfurzer-crowdfund-parasitic-sleeping-pods-london-homeless-indiegogo/> 13 James Furzer, interviewed by Tanya Haldipur, October 2017 14 “Jamesfurzer”, Jamesfurzer, 2017 <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> 10 11
1. Safe: The ladders are designed to fold away and the podsâ€™ structure is secure to avoid anything falling off onto the streets. They can provide shelter from the weather and people for the night.
4. Lightweight: Timber-clad with no real structure of its own and therefore uses the existing wall as its backbone.
2. Warm: The interior plywood walls have good thermal qualities and in summer the temperature can be controlled using the windows.
5. Adaptable: The interior includes simple, fold-away furniture that can be pulled down when needed for different activities.
6. Secure: The pods can be locked from the inside and are elevated above street level for extra security. Furzer also has plans to co-ordinate with charities to monitor the pods on a daily basis.
3. Dry: Insulated floor panels keep the pods dry.
fig. 2.2 - Six ethos of the design
The 6m2 pods encompass six concepts as shown in Fig 2.2. The project is proof that designers can make â€œsmall spaces functional and dignified, and manage modest budgets to create safe and welcoming places.â€?15 This is achieved with a minimalist, adaptable design that provides the basic necessities, including a bed and foldaway furniture. The core material is untreated plywood, used internally and externally, due to its high thermal and sound insulating properties. Therefore, it would protect the inhabitant from the cold and any external noise, effectively.
Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 76. 15
The bed is a plywood shelf with a mattress that spans the entirety of the pod width, attached to both ends of the wall. This means it does not need any support in the middle, creating under-bed storage for the occupants (Fig. 2.3).
fig. 2.3 - Internal render by Furzer
Furzer intends to collaborate with local charities, who could help manage the pods; ensuring they are available to everyone that requires them and are maintained to a good standard: “I envisage the pods being monitored and maintained on a daily basis. Rules for appropriate usage and even times of use could be put in place, to ensure that the pods do not cause a hazard to pedestrians. It would be important, for example, that access ladders could be safely stowed and no objects could fall from the pods.”16 ~ James Furzer
Email correspondence to Tanya Haldipur from James Furzer, “Dissertation On Architecture For The Homeless Community” September 2017 16
In Davis’ book, he states “…affordable housing should be indistinguishable from nearby housing so that residents will not be stigmatized and will feel a part of the surrounding community”17. Furzer had this in mind when designing his pods. The external facades can be adapted to match the aesthetics of its host building (Fig. 2.4) to attempt to reduce the risk of vandalism, which frequently occurs on the streets at present. To guarantee pedestrian and occupant safety, the pods are raised above street level with a flat roof window that acts as a fire escape route18 .
fig. 2.4 - Structural axonometric
Furzer’s design, theoretically, appears to be a successful temporary innovation. In reality, there are a few challenges that need to be addressed before the design can be implemented. Furzer stated that finding and gaining access to space in the city, where these pods can be installed is the biggest challenge as acquiring consent from councils has proven difficult19 .
Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 20. 18 “Jamesfurzer”, Jamesfurzer, 2017 <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> 19 Email correspondence to Tanya Haldipur from James Furzer, “Dissertation On Architecture For The Homeless Community” December 2017 17
fig. 2.5 - internal render
fig. 2.6 - internal render
It’s not just about giving out a shelter and its not just about throwing someone into an apartment either. It’s an issue that
requires a holistic service.
‘Cardborigami’ by Tina Hovsepian
fig. 2.7 - Cardborigami Shelter
Tina Hovsepian’s origami-inspired shelter design (fig. 2.7) was driven by her aim to aid the growing homeless crisis on ‘Skid Row’ in Los Angeles. It rapidly became recognised as a solution for a variety of different causes (fig. 2.8).
Skype interview with Tina Hovsepian, interviewed by Tanya Haldipur, December 2017 20
fig. 2.8 - Cardborigami programmes offered
Shelter is only the first step in Carborigami’s 4-step programme for homeless aid, which aims to bridge the gap between living on the streets and being permanently housed21 (fig. 2.9). It acknowledges the complexity of homelessness and works to try and aid the problem at every stage. This holistic approach was formed following thorough research and communication with rough sleepers in LA about their opinions of the programme during development. Hovsepian learnt that some were deterred from staying at existing homeless shelters due to bad treatment from other homeless people and the staff22. They preferred her design as it provides shelter from the elements, without exposing them to other negative environments (Table 2.1). However, feedback also showed that people did not want handouts and preferred a long-term approach that helps them become self-sufficient again.
fig. 2.9 - 4-step programme
Ararat Yarijanian, “Cardborigami’S Strategic Business Plan To Address Urban Homelessness” (unpublished Master of Science, California State University, 2017). 22 Skype interview with Tina Hovsepian, interviewed by Tanya Haldipur, December 2017 21
64% - agreed they could easily carry around the Cardborigami with absolute ease
83% - said that if trained, they would “open and close this shelter with relative ease”. 86% - felt comfortable using the shelter where others also have the Cardborigami 20% - feared others would steal their Cardborigami 81% - Felt that they would make Cardborigami home 74% - would share their shelter with someone they trust 98% - agreed that this shelter is better than where they live at the current moment 76% - said this would be a temporary solution for them.
90% - felt they would be protected from outside elements such as heat, cold, wind, rain and extreme temperature variations
76% - felt they would gain a temendous sense of privacy using Cardborigami 76% - said that this sense of privacy and shelter would make them feel better about themselves 80% - felt that Cardborigami would provide them with a personal space to “collect themselves”
82% - agreed the shelter is innovative in it’s approach and easthetically pleasing to the eye
96% - would recommend this solution to others in need of temporary shelter
Table 2.1 - Cardborigami’s feedback from rough sleepers
The 6 by 4-foot structures are spacious enough for people to comfortably occupy. The product is manufactured from a single piece of cardboard composed of three roof components, three floor components and two door components. These are connected by a series of folds23 and compressed into a single package that expands to create shelter; hence it is easy for rough sleepers to deploy themselves (fig. 2.10).
fig. 2.10 - How the structure is deployed
This is incredibly meaningful to them as it is “the first situation for some of these people to do something for themselves in a long time.”24 Therefore, as well as providing shelter, it also offers hope and encouragement for them to get back on their feet. By providing this temporary safety and comfort, Hovsepian hopes that people will be able to “concentrate their energies on finding work rather than having to make day-to-day sleeping arrangements”25 . The aesthetically pleasing pattern and the ability to take ownership, has the potential to return dignity to their lives.
Ararat Yarijanian, “Cardborigami’S Strategic Business Plan To Address Urban Homelessness” (unpublished Master of Science, California State University, 2017). 24 Andrew Stone, “10 Questions With… Tina Hovsepian”, Interior Design, 2014<http://www.interiordesign.net/articles/8105-10-questions-with-tinahovsepian/> 25 Allison Sanchez and others, “One Woman’s Mission To Create Cardboard Shelters For The Homeless”, UPROXX, 2017 <http://uproxx.com/life/origamihomes-for-the-homeless/5/> 23
An issue that initially emerged when analysing the precedent, was how the lightweight structure would be kept grounded when uninhabited or in high winds. However, Hovsepian disclosed that the structure has recently been tested against 100mph wind speeds and moved only a few inches when vacant26 . Another limitation is gaining access to the land upon which Cardborigami has plans to deploy the structures. To ensure occupants’ safety and prevent misuse of the shelters, they want to restrict distribution to private land only. A constraint to this is the difficulty in gaining access to this land, as “many ordinances [in LA] have restrictions on the usage of encampments overnight”27. The need to limit its location is understandable as the design and material of the structure may not fare well on public streets, where it is subject to scrutiny. However, this narrows down locations considerably and rough sleepers could be required to move far from their original areas, which some may not be happy about. To overcome this, Hovsepian explained that they hope to collaborate with existing companies or shelters, working with the homeless, that already have access to toilet facilities and ideally services such as medical or job placement aid, which would make gaining planning permission easier26.
These precedents were chosen because they are not simply trying to house the homeless but are looking at ways to reintegrate them back into society, even when they are still on the streets. Both innovations address the underlying needs that come with rough sleeping, which go beyond basic shelter to protect them from the elements. A key strength in both designs is their ability to raise awareness of the issue of rough sleeping, not just in their respective countries, but also globally. However, for both projects, gaining permission from authoritative figures is the main obstacle preventing the designs from becoming a reality. Hence, they show that in order for architectural interventions to succeed, it is first crucial to change the way that people, particularly governing bodies, view this marginalised community, so that they are able to access the same rights as the rest of society.
Skype interview with Tina Hovsepian, interviewed by Tanya Haldipur, December 2017 27 Ararat Yarijanian, “Cardborigami’S Strategic Business Plan To Address Urban Homelessness” (unpublished Master of Science, California State University, 2017). 26
Population density, 2009 (people per sq km)
“It is hard its really hard.
2,500 or over 1,000 - 2,499 500 - 999
Especially not having a roof over your head as well. You’ve gotta you’ve just gotta live by it really. You’re still human at the end of the day. ~ Lucy (rough sleeper in Newcastle)
250 - 499 100 - 249 99 or under 1. Newcastle upon Tyne 2. North Tyneside 3. South Tyneside 4. Sunderland 5. Gateshead 6. Hartlepool UA 7. Darlington UA 8. Stockton-on-Tees UA 9. Middlesbrough UA 10. Redcar and Cleveland UA
” Fig. 3.1
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
of the population are unemployed Fig. 3.2
out of 350 councils in England for the biggest risk of poverty (EXPERIAN 2012)
Recorded homeless in 2017 (SHELTER)
Increase in number of rough sleepers between 2010 and 2016 (NAO)
CHAPTER 3 - CASE STUDY OF NEWCASTLE
Purpose The aim of this study was to gain an insight into life on the streets of Newcastle, to understand the implications that it has on rough sleepers, and the role that architecture may have in alleviating some of the consequences. Given the time frame and the volatility of the issue discussed, overall quantitative data on rough sleeping in Newcastle, such as how many rough sleepers there are altogether or the average age, needed to be sought from secondary sources. In order to gain qualitative first-hand information, semistructured interviews were carried out with a fellow student, Ciara McClelland, over a time period of two months between November and December 2017. The decision to use this format allowed people “to answer more on their own terms than the standardised interview permits, but still provide[d] a greater structure for comparability over that of the focused or unstructured interview.”28 These interviews were then analysed thematically, with results that give an insight into participants’ common experiences of sleeping rough in Newcastle and provide context for the discussion on the role of architecture to address homelessness, examined in the final chapter.
Newcastle Upon Tyne Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is a city in the North-East of England, on the River Tyne, with a population of approximately 296,500 people39 , a number that has been steadily rising. Consequently, it has the highest population density in the North East with more than 2500 people per square kilometre30 (fig. 3.1) Homelessness, here, like many cities in the country, has been on the rise.
Tim May, Social Research, 4th edn (Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw Hill, Open University Press, 2010), p. 153 29 “Nomis - Official Labour Market Statistics”, Nomisweb.Co.Uk, 2016 <http:// www.nomisweb.co.uk/reports/lmp/la/1946157065/printable.aspx> 30 North East Population Density: By Local Or Unitary Authority, 2009 (ONS, 2009), p.1<http://file:///Users/tanyahaldipur/Downloads/populationmapnortheast_ tcm77-254084%20(4).pdf> 28
Fig. 3.3 Interview route
Central Station 26
Interview setting The interviews were carried out in the city centre of Newcastle, using a standardised route that led from Newcastle University to Central Station (fig. 3.3). This route was determined after several surveys of the city, which identified the areas where rough sleepers are most likely to be seen during the day. Thus, the route cuts through the main arteries of the city such as Northumberland Street and Grainger Street, which have a high density of pedestrians and hence rough sleepers have a greater chance of acquiring donations.
Participants: The study gathered accounts from 6 individuals who were sleeping rough at the time. The participants are displayed in Table 3.1:
Period of rough sleeping
Time of day
A few years
7 years (on and off)
Table 3.1 Fig. 3.1
While there were no predetermined gender preferences or specific criteria for selection of interviewees, other than being a ‘rough sleeper’, there were a few aspects to consider. Firstly, there was the “issue of accessibility”31 . Due to the nature of the interviewees’ environments and experiences, it was possible that some of them did not wish to share their story and we needed to be respectful of this. We were very strict in informing any potential participants of our position as student researchers and gaining their permission to be identified in our work. Another issue was our personal safety. Care was taken to ensure that the interviews were not carried out after 5pm and the closer it was to this time period, the more cautious we were about who we decided to approach. A tactic used to try and overcome this was to ask potential individuals if they would like a hot drink and what kind of drink they would like. This allowed us to determine whether or not they were open to having a conversation and in the right state of mind to be interviewed.
The interview Process The use of sequential interviewing, which is a chronological method that “involves interviewing people about events in the way they might, or have, unfolded”32 , was crucial as it allowed us to gain an insight into their past, present and possible future experiences32. It was also critical to note the time of day that we were conducting each interview as it could have had an effect on the mental state of the interviewee, due to intoxication risks, which is most likely to be the case early in the morning or late in the evening. The general format of questions asked is highlighted in Table 3.2.
Tim May, Social Research, 4th edn (Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw Hill, Open University Press, 2010), p. 141 32 Tim May, Social Research, p. 145 31
How did you end up on the streets?
How long have you been on the streets?
What has your experience been like on the streets? Have you stayed in any shelters? If so, what was your experience of them?
4. 5. 6.
What are your plans for the future? How do you think people can help?
These varied slightly between each interview as it was crucial, in obtaining accurate accounts, that the rapport between interviewer and interviewee was maintained to a suitable standard, whereby commentary was given by us to “make the subjects feel that their participation and answers are valued”33 . Likewise, the presence of Ciara allowed the interview to become more of a discussion and therefore less intimidating to the interviewee.
The stories The stories of the six people that were interviewed for this study are presented on the following pages. By using audio-recording methods, we were able to capture the “nonverbal gestures of the interviewee(s),”34 as well as the conversation, both of which are analysed in the ‘key observations’ for each person. The following section presents the condensed version of the original interviews, but the full transcripts can be found in Appendix A. The aim here is to portray their personal experiences, in the hope that it will shed light on the complexity and severity of the homeless situation in Newcastle, as well as portray an aspect that many forget – they are human beings.
Tim May, Social Research, 4th edn (Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw Hill, Open University Press, 2010), p. 142 34 Tim May, Social Research, p. 152 33
“Smile… as I always do. People always come up saying for the situation you’re in you’ve always got a smile on your face, how? Like I canny sit here miserable can I? Put a downer on everyone else just sitting there like I’m gonna be unhappy about it. Keep a smile on my face. Makes everybody seem cheerful as well.”35 ~ Sonia
Additional details (direct quotes)
Trigger for homelessness
“Yeah me ex partner, yeah. I was living with his mam and then they had a falling out so obviously I couldn’t stay at his mam’s, so he chucked me out and I went to a hostel, left the hostel to go back with me ex and it went pear-shaped so ended up on the streets and now there’s no hostels apparently.”
Period of being on the streets
A few years
To end up in a flat
Suggestions of what can be done to help
More funding and temporary accommodation
“there would have to be at least 2 accommodations for like men and women.” “there should be couples ones too, ‘cause thats another thing, theres not a lot of hostels for couples”
This interview’s full transcript is available in Appendix A
- When talking about her tent, her face lit up. It was clear that she cherished this object as it was something that was hers, a symbol of home: “I’ve got me tent haven’t I. I’ve got me tent. And it’s cosy.”35 This suggests that perhaps one of the aspects that rough sleepers lack is a space or place to claim as their own. - Her general outlook on life was very positive and she was extremely appreciative of the work carried out by current charities and also by the general public, even though they don’t help to get her off the streets: “They give me a warm meal, they do it off their own backs, they volunteer and I’m grateful for it like if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t get fed. If it wasn’t for the public I wouldn’t get fed either.”35 It shows how important interactions, with other people, are to her and undoubtedly to most rough sleepers, who can sometimes sit for days without talking to anyone.
Sonia, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 9th November 2017 35
“It’s hard coz I’m fighting the council trying to get my own place, and they’re trying to say I’m not priority and I, I can’t get the grasp of why I’m not priority, you know, it’s like why am I not priority? I’ve paid the taxes, I’ve worked... and now I’m stuck on the streets, nowhere, you can’t claim dole because you haven’t got an address, can’t get a job because you haven’t got an address..”36 ~ Steven
Additional details (direct quotes)
Summary Trigger for homelessness
Period of being on the streets
Nearly 3 years
To get sorted so he can see his kids
Suggestions of what can be done to help
Temporary accommodation as a trial run
“so basically I was in a relationship for fifteen years with me partner and uh I was living at home, had a house, had kids. I came home from work early one afternoon and she was with someone else. So it made me leave my family home.”
“I think temporary accommodation would be ideal. Just to see what it would be like, sort of like a test run like. Like a trial run to see what it, the housing and begging, like, to see what it would actually do to it. I think it would at least stop a little of the begging and things going on on the streets.”
This interview’s full transcript is available in Appendix A
- It was clear that being on the streets has had an impact on his life. He does not have any faith in the system and feels that the government and other officials are failing society by acting as if the crisis is not as bad as it actually is: “The government don’t really know what they’re doing. They haven’t got a clue. Theyre they’re stuck. In a rut, the government and they don’t know how to get out of it. That’s how it is isn’t it they’re really stuck. Trying to say there’s not a big homeless crisis... People don’t actually realize how bad it is. But when you try to voice your opinion, you get pushed out straight away.”36 For any aid to be successful, the rough sleepers need to be involved as they are the main ‘clients’. It is very hard to understand exactly what life is like on the streets without asking the people that go through it.
Steven, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 36
“Everyone tries to drag you down. Like if you’ve never done something before or if you say you haven’t had a certain drug or whatever they’ll try and force it on you. The worst place you can put a person I think [is] in a hostel. Horrible, worse than the streets. Only decent thing about a hostel is it’s an actual bed and not a sleeping bag. They’re horrible, hostels.”37 ~ Tom
Additional details (direct quotes)
Trigger for homelessness
Relationship breakdown and drugs
“It went from being with me mam, i went foster care and then i went from foster care down the wrong road and end up going to jail, i went jail a couple of times and i got out, sorted myself out, got a girlfriend, had a daughter with her, end up making a mistake and cheated on her and then she kicked us out and now I’m down on this road.”
Period of being on the streets
“Not that long compared to my friends”
Get off the streets
“Just to get off the streets and get my life together, one step at a time”
Suggestions of what can be done to help
“I dont know like i haven’t done it yet. I don’t really know, only thing i can say is give everyone a house or a flat but that aint gonna happen is it. I don’t really know how they could deal with it, they could deal with a few but not all of them, theres hundreds of em”
This interview’s full transcript is available in Appendix A
- When asked about his experiences on the street, he explained: “It’s a bit scary. Its alright most of the time but you get some crazy people and you don’t know what’s gonna happen or not. I’ve been stabbed and that so… I don’t know like it’s a bit hard like, it’s a scary experience but you get used to it after a while.”37 It is upsetting to see that he is forced to “get used to” experiences as bad as being stabbed, as he does not have a choice. In the long run, this could have an impact on his mental health and prevent him from “seeking help to move on from homelessness”.
Tom, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 37
“Yeah been to that Salvation Army one and Elliot House for a bit, it’s horrid. Got kicked out of there though but wouldn’t go back even if they offerred, it were hell.There were rats there and all. No better than being here.38 ~ Michael
Additional details (direct quotes)
Trigger for homelessness
Jail and relationship breakdown
“Yeah I went jail, and me wife cheated on me, this was back in Scotland and then i had nowhere so came here..”
Period of being on the streets
Suggestions of what can be done to help
This interview’s full transcript is available in Appendix A
- Although quite reserved about his life, one point Michael made was thoughtprovoking: “Salvation Army got shut down, I think it’s now student flats, thing is this city prioritises students, that had 120 rooms and now it’s gone.”38 His claims could not be confirmed, but even then, it is statistically evident that Newcastle is becoming increasingly populated by students as according to Newcastle City Council, “student population has more than doubled in the last 15 years, rising from 25,271 in 2001/02 to 42,565 students in 2014/15”39.Therefore, an increasing number of building sites are being used to house them, rather than using them for social housing because it would provide landlords with less profit.
Michael, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 5th December 2017 39 Hannah Graham, “Why So Many Student Flats Being Built In Newcastle?”, The Chronicle, 2016 <https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/ many-student-flats-being-built-12206863> 38
“To be honest, like, I know it sounds stupid, but I like being on the streets. Like I prefer. I mean there’s no rules. No one can tell you what to do. No bedtime. I mean I know I’m 20 odd but ya know, still get bed times don’t you.”40 ~ Mike
Additional details (direct quotes)
Trigger for homelessness
“To be truthful, drugs. I started on them when I was 16. Ended up… just.. getting bad on them and ended up needing counseling.”
Period of being on the streets
“Um on and off. Er. It will be… from when I was 16,
On his own, in a sleeping bag
“I normally stay around there between the two shops. I just sleep on my own. Got a few layers on. I’m sweating anyways. This one… its got fur on it. Gotta keep myself warm.”
Suggestions of what can be done to help
now im 23. On and off 7 years.”
This interview’s full transcript is available in Appendix A
MIKE (Male) Northumberland street
KEY OBSERVATION(S): - It was clear that although Mike is in his early 20s, being on the streets since he was 16 years old has had an impact on his maturity. When asked what his experience has been like, he responded saying: “I know it sounds stupid but I like being on the sreets. Like I prefer. I mean there’s no rules. No one can tell you what to do. No bedtime. I mean I know I’m 20 off but ya know, still get bed times don’t you.”40 His reference to bedtimes shows that he is still juvenile for his age, a possible result of prolonged rough sleeping, which could affect his ability to get a job or move on from homelessness. - When asked if he’d had any particularly bad experiences, Mike seemed content and replied: “No none actually. Fine. Been quite happy, quite lucky. I mean I’ve had a couple of friends die and that but that’s about it.”40 His casual statement about the death of his friends shows how these events, that would ordinarily be distressing for an individual, have become a normality in his life.
Mike, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 18th December 2017 40
“You get a lot of abuse. You’re called all names under the sun. Most most people think you’re like a druggie coz you beg for money. but that’s really not the case at all. Most people beg for what they really need. Obviously me, I beg personally for me dog and for me babies as well and for me. Erm but it is hard its really hard. Especially not having a roof over your head as well. You’ve gotta you’ve just gotta live by it really. You’re still human at the end of the day.”41 ~ Lucy
Additional details (direct quotes)
Summary Trigger for homelessness
Pregnancy (and fight in hostel)
Period of being on the streets
Return to dancing and become a counselor
Is pregnant with twins and has a dog called ‘Baby’
“Erm, well. This started back in 2014 when I used to live in the Tyneside Foyer. I got kicked out coz erm some people trying to rob me room so obviously I got into a fight. And ive been kicked out in note of hostel acceptors coz they think im violent. Coz im pregnant with twins as well”
“ever since I came on the streets like like I speak to people that in my position and ive ive helped a couple of people as well and I wish I could help myself but ive helped like a lot of people. Like obviously the way Ive been living on the streets and the way ive experienced stuff I don’t want people my age or younger being in the same position.”
“She’s called baby. I’ve had her since she was five months. She’s 9 years now. She’s a rescue dog.”
This interview’s full transcript is available in Appendix A
Monument Grey Street
Grainger Street LUCY (Female)
KEY OBSERVATION(S): - Being pregnant with twins and sleeping rough must be hard. During the interview, Lucy had to excuse herself to vomit. She apologised profusely and explained that it was due to morning sickness. When asked if she gets any help from NHS for her pregnancy, she replied: “Nothing. All I can do is go and see me appointments and that. Er obviously I’m currently working with a worker. all they keep doing though is putting us on a gateway for like hostels around Newcastle. Erm so just gotta wait really. I’ve been waiting since 2014 for a house but or even a little hostel.”41 The law states that she should be on the priority list for permanent housing because she is pregnant. However, she has been waiting for over 3 years for a house suggesting this housing system is failing.
Lucy (alias), (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 22nd December 2017 40
You certainly cant get out of it, and the cops are saying theres no big homeless
crisis in Newcastle. There is, there is coz I know know like people here, they’re homeless people.
CHAPTER 4 - THEMATIC ANALYSIS In this chapter, thematic analysis is used, as suggested by Braun and Clarke42 , to identify recurrent themes in the data related to the proposed research question: what is the role of architecture in bridging the gap between sleeping rough and being permanently housed? The three dominant themes that emerged across the narratives of the six individuals are analysed and each theme is titled using a select direct quote, from the participants, that captures the essence of the theme presented. Two of the themes are divided into smaller sub-themes for clarity.
1. The absence of dignity on the streets - “You’re still human at the end of the day”43 The interviews took place in winter, sometimes on days when the temperature was below freezing and thus we were able to witness the effect that this had on rough sleepers, who were often covered in multiple layers of cardboard and fleeces. This exposure to the elements is the first aspect that I would think of when imagining life on the streets. However, for the participants interviewed, it was a trivial matter compared to some other aspects that are not necessarily as evident to an outsider.
Sub-theme 1 – “You get a lot of abuse.”43
One of the most prevalent topics discussed in the interviews was the lack of security on the streets. Majority of participants described instances where they’d been subject to either physical or verbal abuse by passers-by or other rough sleepers. Steven was particularly distressed by it: “oh its heart-breaking. When you’re in a sleeping bag and you’ve got someone standing over the top of ya, peeing on ya and that. It’s not very nice. Yh yh. And people just kicking you when you’re asleep and in you’re sleeping bag.”44
Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke, Using Thematic Analysis In Psychology. Qualitative Research In Psychology, 2006, pp. 15-27 <http://dx.doi. og/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa> 43 Lucy (Alias), (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 22nd December 2017 44 Steven, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 42
The emotional intensity in his account is palpable and it was clear that, of all the participants, he was least comfortable in his position. Additionally, both Sonia and Lucy mentioned the threat of being set on fire: Sonia: well… I’ve had me tent threatened to get burnt, with me inside it as well.45 Lucy: Tents get burnt yh. They do. Loadsa people on the streets now are dead weary about tents. Coz you get like horrible people that’s obviously in the same boat as yous all on the streets wanting to set the tents on fire.46 Both references to this type of abuse seem to be linked to the ownership of tents, which suggests that being in possession of a shelter as simple as this can cause jealousy amongst other rough sleepers who are in the “same boat”46 but do not own it themselves, leading to vandalism. However, when asked whether the risk was mostly from other homeless people or passers-by, Lucy stated that it was in fact “50/50”46, explaining, “I get some passers by that just look us up and down and call us names under their breath” 46 What is most concerning here, is not the abuse from other rough sleepers, but the mistreatment from members of the public. In a 2016 survey by Crisis, across England and Wales, 56% claimed, “the main perpetrators of [abuse] against rough sleepers were members of the general public.”47 To many in society, rough sleepers are often “classified as members of an ‘underclass’ or as the archetypal ‘socially excluded group’”48 , due to belief that they are either voluntarily homeless or “ne’er-do-wells trying to benefit from whatever society is doling out”49 . For this reason, passers by may subject them to verbal and physical abuse such as urination, as seen in Steven’s account. These negative interactions with members of the public and other rough sleepers is not unusual or specific to Newcastle, as according to a 2016 report by Crisis which surveyed rough sleepers across England and Wales, 77% of respondents described anti-social behaviour and/or crime against them within the 12 months prior to the review50 (fig. 4.1) . Research shows that these forms of violence can have significant repercussions for rough sleepers, including “negative impacts on their mental and physical health and ability to trust others [which] can inhibit them from seeking help to move on from homelessness.”51 Sonia, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 9th November 2017 46 Lucy (Alias), (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 22nd December 2017 47 Ben Sanders and Francesca Albanese, “It’s No Life At All” Rough Sleepers’ Experiences Of Violence And Abuse On The Streets Of England And Wales (London, 2018), p. 12
Patricia Kennett and Alex Marsh, Homelessness: Exploring The New Terrain (Bristol: Policy Press, 1999), p. 1. 49 Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 76. 50 Ben Sanders and Francesca Albanese, “It’S No Life At All” p. 6 51 Ben Sanders and Francesca Albanese, “It’S No Life At All” p. 15
Fig. 4.1 - graph showing different abuse on the streets
Sub-theme 2 – “I get moved on a lot”52: Another sub-theme that emerged when analysing the interviews was feeling like an outsider in their own city and therefore not being able to claim their own space. Some participants mentioned they were being subject to police scrutiny, rather than providing support, Newcastle officers were treating them like criminals. Steven explained, “The police come and wake you up at 4 o clock in the morning, 5 o clock in the morning. You’ve just got in your sleeping bag and you get moved again so it’s a big vicious circle.”53 Likewise, Sonia disclosed, “I get moved on a lot, get dispersals get like 24 hour dispersals out of town, so yeah, they can go up to 48 hours. I knew one person who got a dispersal, it were for 7 days. They had to be out of town for an entire week!”52
Sonia, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 9th November 2017 53 Steven, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 52
These dispersals represent the ultimate failure of society; rather than getting help, they are treated like vermin, simply because they have nowhere to live. In addition to this, the extracts suggest they often do not have a space that they can claim as their own. Steven described the struggle of finding a space to occupy within the city: “Trying to find an alleyway or somewhere to stay or you cannot trespass in any way. You’ve gotta be careful. Whatever you do, no matter what and its so hard, I mean.”54 He goes on to explain that many homeless individuals are pushed to occupy the residual spaces in the city, which most would not even consider (fig. 4.2): “All the people lying in the doorways. I mean I’ve seen it, seen it plenty of times ya know. Especially if you’re going to the library and there’s people sleeping in the bins and in the bin sheds and all that.”54
Fig. 4.2 - image showing a inhabitation in a derlicit, burntdown building in Newcastle
This theme reflects a serious lack of belonging that many rough sleepers experience. This is mainly a result of negative perceptions from the rest of society, which may cause a feeling of detachment and push them to inhabit dangerous or dirty spaces. Perhaps, this is why there is also abuse within the homeless community, as those that are lucky enough to obtain an aspect of attachment, such as the ownership of a tent, become a target of envy. Steven, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 54
2. Misjudged: How ‘fake’ rough sleepers are preventing those in need from accessing help - “Get off your arse you’re not even homeless!”55 A recurring reflection by most of the participants was the acknowledgment that some supposed rough sleepers are not, in reality, homeless and only sit on the streets to gain extra money, which in turn taints the image of those that need the money to survive. For this reason, Steven showed sympathy towards the public, understanding that, “They’ve gotta get sick of seeing beggars on like every corner coz there’s a few people and I like as I say half of them have got like fat houses and things like that which annoys me, that annoys me so much”56 It was clear that he was aggravated by this and had previously complained saying, “So then like people like me… they spoil it for everybody else. Yh and n now everybody’s a druggies…. I mean we’re not all like that! Now people look at us like we’re all the same but we’re not”56 He was not the only one to be irritated by this. Sonia, whose overall attitude was surprisingly positive, started to become frustrated when talking about it: “I do know like other beggars aren’t homeless you know what I mean? They’re putting a block on people who actually are homeless, and I get annoyed with them me, I tell them sometimes like ‘you’re not even homeless you’re a druggie… get off your arse!’” 55
Sonia, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 9th November 2017 56 Steven, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 55
The reference to drugs was something that all participants mentioned and with the exception of Mike, it seemed like something that they wanted to stay clear of. Michael stated “there’s no spaces for people like me,”57 when talking about services from Crisis Newcastle, as “Crisis is for spice heads”57, a colloquial term for synthetic cannabis. When asked about his opinion of having more shelters, Tom responded by saying, “It would drag along the wrong attention. It would just get all the smack heads around”58 However, Mike defended the use of drugs on the streets, arguing that, “when you live on the streets, there’s nothing to do with your time so most of the homeless people turn to drugs to like get rid of the time ya know… so that’s why most of us take drugs”59 His difference in views from the other five participants could be an outcome of his prolonged experience on the streets, having been homeless for 7 years, since he was 16 years old, the longest period, by far, out of all the participants. It suggests that the longer this period, “the more likely it is they will develop additional mental and physical health needs, substance misuse issues and have contact with the criminal justice system”60, an aspect which has been noticed by various homeless charities across the UK.
Michael, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 5th December 2017 58 Tom, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 59 Mike, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 18th December 2017 60 “Rough Sleepers And Complex Needs | Crisis | Together We Will End Homelessness”, Crisis <https://www.crisis.org. uk/ending-homelessness/rough-sleeping/rough-sleepers-andcomplex-needs/> 57
3. How shelters are failing as a place of refuge – “Wouldn’t go back if they offered, it were hell”61
Sub-theme 1 – “very tight places, only giving them to people with priority”62 While most shelters state that alcohol and drug abuse results in eviction, the interviews tell a different story. The word “priority” was prominent in some of the transcripts, where they indicated that in order to be eligible for a place at a hostel, there were certain conditions that a person needed to be in, which surprisingly, included addictions: “Yeah if you don’t have priority you don’t get a look in, you get pushed to the side, so if you’re not mentally ill, pregnant, or on drugs, so you can’t be a normal person basically.”62 Steven was particularly frustrated by this and couldn’t comprehend why he was being denied help: “So [I’m] not priority for homeless. Basically saying in some hostels you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta commit the crime to get us into a hostel. Because they’re bigger hostels, so you’ve gotta be a criminal to get in there. I’m, I’m not a criminal, no… I can’t get the grasp of why I’m not priority, you know, its like why am I not priority? I’ve paid the taxes, I’ve worked… and now I’m stuck on the streets”63 This suggests that the growing number of homeless people is causing hostels to be exclusive and only help those with the most severe cases. But these rules make “it more difficult for those without [specific] needs to access emergency accommodation at all.”64
Michael, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 5th December 2017 62 Sonia, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 9th November 2017 63 Steven, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 64 Paul Cloke, Jon May and Sarah Johnsen, Swept Up Lives (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2011), p. 163. 61
Sub-theme 2 – “The worst place you can put a person I think is in a hostel.”65 The interviews indicate that life in shelters is not always the better option. Several participants explicitly stated that the condition of current shelters was extremely poor and that they can often be “worse than the streets”65 . Tom, who was forced to live in hostels after being released from jail, explained: “Everyone tries to drag you down. Like if you’ve never done something before or if you say you haven’t had this certain drug or whatever they’ll try and force it on you.” 65 Similarly, Lucy described how she was only introduced to drugs when she stayed at a hostel for the first time: “I didn’t know about any drugs until I went into the hostel. And then since I went into the hostel, I learnt about those drugs and everything.”66 It appears that drugs negatively influenced both Lucy and Tom during their time in shelters, which could have had an impact on their chances of moving on from homelessness. Lucy went on to mention that, “I know a couple of people that moved out of hostels coz they’d rather be on the streets than in a hostel. Coz hostels, like they’re full of drugs, can get yourself into like loads of trouble and that so I understand why people wanna move out onto the streets.”66 Their accounts suggest that hostels in Newcastle are failing to provide a suitable environment that allows rough sleepers to progress on from homelessness and in some cases could be deteriorating their circumstances.
Tom, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 66 Lucy (Alias), (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 22nd December 2017 65
Sub-theme 3 – “disgusting if I’m honest”67 Aside from the social aspects, two participants mentioned their disgust in the uncleanliness of some of the shelters: Tom: I’ve been Elliott house, that’s disgusting that place, I went to go to the showers once and there were dirty dirty smack needles in the showers. disgusting if I’m honest.67 Michael, too, revealed his disappointment in Elliot House stating that, “It’s horrid. Got kicked out of there… but wouldn’t go back even if they offered, it were hell… There were rats there and all.68 Both accounts suggest that some shelters are neglected. This could be the result of lack of funding but it could also be a result of the lack of care towards the inhabitants. As Lucy explained when talking about Changing Lives, a charity providing accommodation and specialist support, “They are helpful in a way… but in some cases they don’t own ass… there’s only one worker that I really get on with, that actually wants to help homeless people. The other workers just wanna get paid and they just don’t really care about your situation..”69 While there may be bias in her account, when combined with accounts of negative treatment by society and officials, it does seem like homeless accommodation that does exist is not given the same attention and care that is provided for other types of housing.
Tom, (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 68 Michael (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 12th November 2017 69 Lucy (Alias) (2017) interviewed by Tanya Haldipur on the streets of Newcastle, 22nd December 2017 67
architecture can play an
important role in creating facilities that sustain the dignity of people that have fallen on hard times.
CHAPTER 5 - DISCUSSION AND CONCLUDING POINTS
The purpose of this study was to explore the role that architecture may have within the complex issue of rough sleeping. Analysis of the interviews has brought some key issues to the forefront of discussion. An overarching theme that is evident within the data is the aspect of dignity and of self-esteem. This is of course the topic of theme 1, which highlights how the abuse from society and the criminal treatment from the authority result in a lack of a sense of belonging within the city. However, in theme 2, it is apparent that, as a result of ‘begging scams’ on the streets, rough sleepers are constantly misjudged. Thus they are often ignored by the public, who fear that the money will be funding addictions, causing a feeling of isolation. Furthermore, the lack of privacy and exposure to negative environments in existing shelters, highlighted in theme 3, can result in a sense of “exposure and vulnerability”71. The clear neglect in maintenance causes rough sleepers to assume that the public is not concerned about them. Literature states “architecture can play an important role in creating facilities that sustain the dignity of people that have fallen on hard times.”70 This discussion looks at possible ways of achieving this using the results from my study and existing sources on the topic.
Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless (London: University of California Press, 2005), p. 26. 71 Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless, p. 13 70
Dignity and rough sleepers’ needs Firstly, it is important to investigate the basics of human needs to ascertain the prerequisites when designing for rough sleepers. We can therefore look at the work of Abraham Maslow, a psychologist who primarily focused on human motivation. In particular, he identified a five-tier model on human needs, sorted into hierarchical levels (fig. 5.1). It explains that a person can only progress through the various levels, “once the current need in the sequence has been met.”72 The foundation level is comprised of physiological “deficiency needs”72 such as food, water, and shelter. These are the most basic needs required by human beings in order to survive. According to Maslow, once these have been satisfied, a person is eligible to receive the next level of needs. Maslow suggests, “these physiological needs are the most pre-potent of all needs”73. This means that for the most extreme circumstances, where the human being lacks everything in life, as is the case of a rough sleeper, these needs are most likely to be the main form of motivation73. Thus, according to his theory, shelter is one of the first forms of aid needed and until this is provided, “attempts to address the many factors that may contribute to the need for shelter are premature.”74 However, from analysing the interviews, it is clear that shelter needs to provide more than just protection from the elements. It must be a place of refuge that inspires its inhabitants and encourages them to seek help in overcoming homelessness. Cardborigami is successful in this approach. The 4-step programme is similar, in some ways, to Maslow’s hierarchy, as it suggests shelter as the first step in the process of reintegration. Hovsepian explained that dignity “is inherent in the design of the shelter”75, which can be personalised and give rough sleepers an object that they can take ownership of and cherish. This raises their self-esteem and provides encouragement to seek help.
Cara Flanagan and Mike Cardwell, AQA Psychology For A Level Year 2 (Illuminate, 2016), pp. 20-21. 73 Abraham H Maslow, A Theory Of Human Motivation (Lanham: Dancing Unicorn Books, 1894), p. 373. 74 Lisa Orr, The Homeless (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1990), p. 121. 75 Skype interview with Tina Hovsepian, interviewed by Tanya Haldipur, December 2017 72
Morality, creativity, spontaneity, acceptance
Confidence, achievement, respect of others
LOVE AND BELONGING
Friendship, family, intimacy, sense of connection
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Health, employment, property, family and social stability
Breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep and excretion fig. 5.1 - Maslowâ€™s Hierachy of needs
The theory states that self-esteem is the penultimate level in becoming completely satisfied. As identified within the interviews, rough sleepers have complex needs; hence, Maslow’s theory should be rearranged in order to fit their requirements. Therefore, for rough sleepers, I would argue that self-esteem should not be a final requirement but one that is achieved, or can be sought, relatively early on in the process, as in the case of the Cardborigami shelter. The ‘safety needs’ and ‘love needs’ are therefore results of self-esteem. Receiving the respect of the rest of society alleviates the threats of abuse and separation that are, as highlighted in my study, reasons for a lack of security and belonging. Consequently, the final stage for rough sleepers, that of self-actualisation, can be achieved when they are re-integrated within society, having obtained permanent accommodation and a stable job (fig 5.2).
SELFACTUALISATION Re-integrated within society
LOVE AND BELONGING
Acceptance from society, sense of connection
SAFETY AND SECURITY Reduce threat of abuse and isolation
Confidence, achievement, respect of others
Temporary shelter that provides privacy from the elements and abuse fig. 5.2 -
Rearranged hierachy of needs according to rough sleepers’ requirements
Obtaining ‘safety needs’ Abusive experiences on the streets are covered widely in literature. Many charities have flagged this as a key issue to target, acknowledging that the main perpetrators are often members of the public. While there is no solid evidence on the reasons behind this treatment, it is not uncommon for society to look down on those who don’t fit into the social norm. The homeless are stereotyped as a group of “lazy, unemployed people who could be considered contemptible”76 and do not deserve help. But this is “only a negligible percentage and… most homeless… are families whose bread-winner suddenly lost a job, or mentally or physically handicapped people who cannot work.”77 In fact, this negative treatment perpetuates their circumstances further. Research shows that abuse can have adverse affects on the mental and physical health of rough sleepers, so they may begin relying on alcohol and drugs in order to alleviate any pain caused, further decreasing their chances of getting off the streets. Thus it becomes an endless cycle (fig. 5.3). In a sad case of irony, it is not the exposure to the elements that prohibits rough sleepers from progressing, but the exposure to other human beings.
fig. 5.3 - cycle of abuse
Lisa Orr, The Homeless (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1990), p. 20. 77 Lisa Orr, The Homeless (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1990), p. 39. 76
James Furzer’s homeless pods, to some extent, could be a successful way to overcome this. Literature advises that for homeless people to be reintegrated into society, “we must ensure that the facilities built will be accepted by their neighbors,”78. This is something that his designs aim to do using adaptable external facades that allow the pods to blend into their surroundings. This care and attention, even at street-level, is important in providing a sense of dignity to rough sleepers as it “signals that someone cares about them and that they are worthy of this concern.”79
Obtaining ‘love needs’ Humanitarian design states that architects have a moral responsibility to provide designs that are “offered in an atmosphere of reasonable dignity”80 . But too often, this is missing from social housing, which is not given the same care and attention as other buildings. This is evident in the interview analysis on shelters, portraying the negligence in maintaining positive environments, which theory suggests could be a result of poor design: “if people don’t feel comfortable and they don’t love the places they live, they’ll trash it.”81 Shelters, which mostly operate off state funding, volunteering, and donations, have been known to lack certain aspects of design; “spaces… are unrelieved by visual variation [and] color, which might help mitigate the monotony, is entirely absent.”82 While some blame this on having smaller budgets than other housing projects, I would argue that these restrictions should inspire architects, who, as we can see with the successful ‘tiny house movement’, “can apply standards of good design to make small spaces functional and dignified, and manage budgets to create safe and welcoming places.”79 The same architectural devices used in other residential projects, such as access to “natural light, variations within spaces, color, and visual access to the outdoors”78 needs to be employed in houses for the homeless, whether these are temporary or not, to reduce the stigma associated with this marginalised group.
Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless (London: University of California Press, 2005), p. 143 79 Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless, p. 20 80 Lisa Orr, The Homeless (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1990), p. 20. 81 Alice Min Soo Chun and Irene E Brisson, Ground Rules In Humanitarian Design (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), p. 13. 82 Sam Davis, Designing For The Homeless, p. 20 78
The interviews also highlighted the lack of belonging within the city of Newcastle, as evident in all three themes. In this contemporary age, “the right to the city should be understood as a collective right of all city inhabitants, especially the vulnerable and disfavoured,”83 and yet cities are progressively using defensive strategies, such as installing spikes in shop fronts, to deter the homeless from prime locations.84 This misconduct was seen recently with the Windsor council Leader asking police to clear the area of rough sleepers, ahead of the royal wedding, as he believes that it presents “a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light.”85 This raises the question of where rough sleepers are meant to go if every city in the country is trying to push them out. An aspect we take for granted as homeowners is knowing that we can return to the same place everyday and cherish it as our own. This is considerably lacking on the streets, as rough sleepers rarely have a space they can claim for themselves, often resulting in them occupying derelict and sometimes treacherous spaces that are “least desired for [their] environmental safety, comfort or economic potential.”86 Due to this required mobility, any temporary interventions need to be portable and allow rough sleepers to carry it with them wherever they go. Cardborigami has successfully managed to achieve this, as the structures act as ‘temporary portable homes’ that can be deployed anywhere. It reflects ideas in literature which state that, “home is a place of security within an insecure world.”87 Hovsepian explained that, “even in [an existing] shelter, if they can use this in that space… the real difference is the privacy aspect and where you feel that you’re not being watched.”88
Edward Sieh and Judy McGregor, Human Dignity (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), p. 268. 84 James Furzer, “The Bench - Hostile Architecture” (unpublished Undergraduate, University of Greenwich, 2017). 85 Harriet Sherwood, “Windsor Council Leader Calls For Removal Of Homeless Before Royal Wedding”, The Guardian, 2017 <https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/03/windsorcouncil-calls-removal-homeless-people-before-royal-wedding> 86 Alice Min Soo Chun and Irene E Brisson, Ground Rules In Humanitarian Design (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), p. 57. 83
Irwin Altman and Carol M. Werner eds. Home Environments. Human Behavior and Environment: Advances in Theory and Research. Vol 8. New York: Plenum Press, 1985. 88 Skype interview with Tina Hovsepian, interviewed by Tanya Haldipur, December 2017 87
This idea of utilising spaces of refuge within existing shelters could reduce the influences of negative behaviour that occur, as deduced from my study. This influence may be the consequence of communal design, a common characteristic of shelters. The tendency to take in those with certain addictions means that anyone without these addictions is susceptible and can “often find themselves in the worst possible environment.”89 Perhaps this is why many hostels, which started off with the aim of providing emergency refuge only, have seen people staying for as long as 2 years. According to Crisis, prolonged placement in unsuitable accommodation can be “destructive and demoralising and stops people from moving on from homelessness”90. Furthermore, the process of accessing emergency accommodation is presently ‘priority-based’, therefore many individuals are denied access if their needs don’t fit the requirements. Consequently, this lengthens the period of rough sleeping for these individuals. And so it becomes a vicious cycle whereby ‘normal’, low-risk rough sleepers eventually develop complex needs that further prevent them from overcoming homelessness (fig.5.4 ). The ‘cycle of abuse’ (fig. 5.3) can be viewed as the middle stage in this process.
Paul Cloke, Jon May and Sarah Johnsen, Swept Up Lives (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2011), p. 159 90 “A Life In Limbo | Crisis | Together We Will End Homelessness”, Crisis, 2017 <https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/ a-life-in-limbo/> 89
fig. 5.4 - cycle of rough sleeping
CONCLUSION The cycle indicates the multifaceted nature of rough sleeping, thus, when considering the role of architecture in homelessness, we must accept that “the process is at least as important as the product”91. By analysing Cardborigami’s 4-step programme, a theoretical hierachy for homelessness can be produced (fig. 5.5). Looking at Maslow’s theory now and the rearranged hierachy for rough sleepers, it is clear that, while shelter may be required initially, it is how this shelter provides encouragement, hope and self-esteem that will enable rough sleepers to move on from homelessness. Thus it should be noted that architectural interventions on their own cannot solve the issue of rough sleeping. It can, and should, however, be both a catalyst to begin the process as well as the end goal of permanent housing, but collaboration with other fields is important in bridging the gap between these two stages:
“The best practices of contemporary design are based on cooperation between rich and poor, north and south, coming together to define and address problems by utilizing knowledge and expertise from both educated professionals and local knowledge sources. 91 The quality of these relationships is key.
Alice Min Soo Chun and Irene E Brisson, Ground Rules In Humanitarian Design (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2015), p. 215. 91 Alice Min Soo Chun and Irene E Brisson, Ground Rules In Humanitarian Design, p. 29 90
INTEGRATED BACK INTO SOCIETY
That is indistinguishable from its neighbours
RENTING AND HOUSING COURSES
Developing knowledge of managing own accommodation
SKILLS-BASED DEVELOPMENT Developing skills to obtain employment
Temporary shelter that provides privacy from the elements and abuse fig. 5.5 - Suggested hierachical process homeless aid
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Front cover: ‘Keep Your Coins. I Want Change’ Banksy Image <http://sites.psu.edu/chenedrcl/2013/09/12/ unit-one-assignment-draft/> Fig. 1.1 - Graph Of The Causes Of Homelessness In England <https://www.nao.org.uk/highlights/ homelessness-visualisation/> Fig. 1.2 - The Different Types Of Homelessness, 2016 <https://blog.scotland.shelter.org.uk/benefit-caphighlights-need-for-renewed-action-on-homelessness/> Fig. 1.3 - Page 8 designed by author with data from https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/ homelessness-knowledge-hub/types-of-homelessness/its-no-life-at-all-2016/ https://www.facebook.com/TellStreetLink/vide Fig. 1.4 - ‘Keep Your Coins. I Want Change’ Banksy Image <http://sites.psu.edu/chenedrcl/2013/09/12/ unit-one-assignment-draft/> Fig. 2.1 - James Furzer, External Render of Homeless Pod <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> Fig. 2.2 - James Furzer, External Render of Homeless Pod <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> edited with captions by Author Fig. 2.3 - James Furzer, Internal Render of Homeless Pod <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> Fig. 2.4 - James Furzer, Axonometric of Homeless Pod <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> , captions added by Author Fig. 2.5 - James Furzer, Internal render of Homeless Pod <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> Fig. 2.6 - James Furzer, Internal render of Homeless Pod <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> Fig. 2.7 - Tina Hovsepian, Carborigami Shelter <http://www.cardborigami.org/> Fig. 2.8 - Tina Hovsepian, different uses <http://www.cardborigami.org/> Fig. 2.9 - Tina Hovsepian, 4-part programme <http://www.cardborigami.org/>
Fig. 3.1 - ONS, Population Density Of The North East <http://file:///Users/tanyahaldipur/Downloads/ populationmapnortheast_tcm77-254084%20(4).pdf> Fig. 3.2 - Designed by author Fig. 3.3 - By Author Fig. 3.4 - By Author Fig. 3.5 - By Author Fig. 3.6 - By Author Fig. 3.7 - By Author Fig. 3.8 - By Author Fig. 3.9 - By Author Fig. 4.1 - Ben Sanders and Francesca Albanese, “It’s No Life At All”, graph showing difference abuse on the streets Fig. 4.2 - By Author Fig. 5.1 - By Author Fig. 5.2 - By Author Fig. 5.3 - By Author Fig. 5.4 - By Author Fig. 5.5 - By Author Table 2.1 - By Author, containing data from Ararat Yarijanian, “Cardborigami’S Strategic Business Plan To Address Urban Homelessness” (unpublished Master of Science, California State University, 2017).
Table 3.1 - By Author Table 3.2 -By Author
BIBLIOGRAPHY “A Homelessness Crisis”, SHP <https://www.shp.org.uk/homelessness> “About Homelessness | Crisis | Together We Will End Homelessness”, Crisis<https://www.crisis.org.uk/endinghomelessness/about-homelessness/> Acred, Cara, The Housing Crisis (Cambridge: Independence Educational, 2013), Albanese, Francesca, The Single Biggest Cause Of Homelessness In England Is The Ending Of A Tenancy In The Private Rented Sector, 2015, p. 1 <https://www.homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/site-attachments/HLin-Numbers-The%20single%20biggest%20cause.pdf> Beavis, James, “’Spat On And Ignored’: What I’ve Learned From A Month Sleeping Rough In London”, The Guardian, 2017 Furzer, James, “The Bench - Hostile Architecture” (unpublished Undergraduate, University of Greenwich, 2017) Braun, Virginia, and Victoria Clarke, Using Thematic Analysis In Psychology. Qualitative Research In Psychology, 2006, pp. 15-27 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa> Cloke, Paul, Jon May, and Sarah Johnsen, Swept Up Lives (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2011),Collins, Penn, “This Artist’s Beautifully Designed Cardboard Houses Reimagine Life On The Move”, GOOD Magazine, 2017 Davis, Sam, Designing For The Homeless (London: University of California Press, 2005) Ellin, Nan, Architecture Of Fear (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999) Flanagan, Cara, and Mike Cardwell, AQA Psychology For A Level Year 2 (Illuminate, 2016), “What Is Homelessness?”, Shelter<http://m.england.shelter.org.uk/campaigns_/why_we_campaign/tackling_ homelessness/what_is_homelessness> Furzer, James, Interview with James furzer (Istanbul, 2017) “Jamesfurzer”, Jamesfurzer, 2017 <http://jamesfurzer.webs.com/awards> [accessed 22 December 2017] “Home”, Emptyhomes.Com <http://www.emptyhomes.com/> Haldipur, Tanya, “Dissertation On Architecture For The Homeless Community” email correspondence to James Furzer, 2017 Haldipur, Tanya, Skype Interview with Tina Hovsepian, 2018 Haldipur, Tanya Interviews with rough sleepers Haldipur, Tanya. Phone interview with Tamsen Courtenay “Homelessness In England Visualisation - National Audit Office (NAO)”, National Audit Office, 2016 <https:// www.nao.org.uk/highlights/homelessness-visualisation/> Hovsepian, Tina, Cardborigami Inventor Tina Hovsepian’s Unique Plan to End Homelessness, 2017 84
Jencks, Christopher, The Homeless (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997) Kennett, Patricia, and Alex Marsh, Homelessness: Exploring The New Terrain (Bristol: Policy Press, 1999) Mark, Laura, Ella Braidwood, Ella Braidwood, and Jon Astbury, “Designer Crowdfunds To Build Pods For Homeless”, Architects Journal, 2017 <https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/designer-crowdfunds-to-build-pods-forhomeless/8688044.article> Maslow, Abraham H, A Theory Of Human Motivation (Lanham: Dancing Unicorn Books, 1894), Orr, Lisa, The Homeless (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1990), UPROXX, Tina Hovsepian Fights Homelessness With Origami | The Pursuit, 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=iA3U293DlE4> Stone, Andrew, “10 Questions With… Tina Hovsepian”, Interior Design, 2014 <http://www.interiordesign.net/ articles/8105-10-questions-with-tina-hovsepian/> Min Soo Chun, Alice, and Irene E Brisson, Ground Rules In Humanitarian Design (Hoboken: Wiley, 2015), Orr, Lisa, The Homeless (San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1990) May, Tim, Social Research, 4th edn (Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw Hill, Open University Press, 2010) Parsell, Cameron, “Homelessness As A Choice”, Housing, Theory And Society, 29 (2012), 420-434 <https://doi. org/10.1080/14036096.2012.667834> Robinson, Julia W, Institution And Home (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Techne Press, 2006) “Rough Sleepers And Complex Needs | Crisis | Together We Will End Homelessness”, Crisis <https://www.crisis. org.uk/ending-homelessness/rough-sleeping/rough-sleepers-and-complex-needs/> Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, England (London: Department for Communities and Local Government, 2017), p.1 <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585713/Rough_ Sleeping_Autumn_2016_Statistical_Release.pdf> “Renting ready/>
Sanchez, Allison, Zac Gelfand, Mike Ryan, Courtney Enlow, Amy Nicholson, and Vince Mancini and others, “One Woman’s Mission To Create Cardboard Shelters For The Homeless”, UPROXX, 2017 Sieh, Edward, and Judy McGregor, Human Dignity (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), p. 268 “The Issue Of Youth Homelessness In The UK”, Centrepoint<https://centrepoint.org.uk/youth-homelessness/theissue/> Yarijanian, Ararat, “Cardborigami’S Strategic Business Plan To Address Urban Homelessness” (unpublished Master of Science, California State University, 2017)\
APPENDIX A Transcribed interviews of the six rough sleepers SONIA - 5th November 2017 Where are you staying? “It’s around its around, It’s not me pitch it’s someone else’s, and like that persons been there for four year now. The Pitch that we’re staying at like, it’s got like two tents like a four mans tent and there’s a five man tent and its got like tables over the top of them and then plastic on top of them so yeah they’ve been there for four year now and he’s just taken me an me partner along there. So we’ve like been staying there the last couple of months like.” Have you ever stayed at a shelter before? “No, no, not really” Is there a reason you haven’t? “I don’t know ‘cause like some shelters you go to like are accommodation at people’s houses so like they’re total strangers so it’s not comfortable you know what I mean?” What’s your experience been like? “Well… I’ve had me tent threatened to get burnt, with me inside it as well. Umm, I’ve had me tent pinched, yeah.” Is this just people passing? “Yeah just random people, teenagers just being silly.” Is it at night-time or daytime? “Sometimes it can be anytime, just all depends when you leave your tent pitch. Its not too bad, its getting colder though, got a couple extra duvets on me in me tent.” Do you mind us asking how you got on the streets? “Yeah me ex partner, yeah. I was living with his mam and then they had a falling out so obviously i couldn’t stay at his mam’s, so he chucked me out and I went to a hostel, left the hostel to go back with me ex and it went pear-shaped so ended up on the streets and now there’s no hostels apparently.” There’s no hostels? “Yeah, none, very tight places, only giving them to people with priority and I haven’t got priority so yeah” Do you have to pay for the hostels? “If you do get into a hostel you get housing benefit and then you do have to spend so much of your own money, I try to make forty or fifty for the backpackers you know on Westgate road but I’ve got me tent haven’t I. I’ve got me tent. And it’s cosy.” Have you got any plans for the future? “Mostly day by day at the moment, but hopefully I’ll end up in a flat.
What would you think of someone building shelters on the streets? “That would be good but they would probably get vandalised wouldn’t they, they wouldn’t last very long. They should have like a block of flats made for the homeless, so they’ve got somewhere to go, ‘cause they don’t got many places like that. Like there is drop ins and kitchens that I go to everyday but they don’t like help you get accommodated they just feed you. They give me a warm meal, they do it off their own backs, they volunteer and I’m grateful for it like if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t get fed, if it wasn’t for the public I wouldn’t get fed either” What are the public like? “Yeah most of them seem nice but you do get like some people who do comment but it just like goes over your head. Smile… as I always do. People always come up saying for the situation you’re in you’ve always got a smile on your face, how? Like I canny sit here miserable can I? Put a downer on everyone else just sitting there like I’m gonna be unhappy about it. Keep a smile on my face. Makes everybody seem cheerful as well.” Have you had any trouble with police? “Oh yeah, I get moved on a lot, get dispersals get like 24 hour dispersals out of town, so yeah, they can go up to 48 hours. I knew one person who got a dispersal, it were for 7 days. They had to be out of town for an entire week. I don’t mind though ‘cause like I do know like other beggars aren’t homeless you know what I mean? They’re putting a block on people who actually are homeless, and I get annoyed with them me, I tell them sometimes like “you’re not even homeless you’re a druggie!” you know what I mean, I’m not even a druggie like I’m homeless. The worst I can do is smoke tabs like “get off your arse you’re not even homeless!” How do you think people can most help you? “I think some sort of funding, some place the homeless can stay until they’ve got somewhere else to go, like accommodation to stay. But there would have to be at least 2 accommodations for like men and women.” Do you think it should be separated then? “Not necessarily like obviously there should be couples ones too, ‘cause that’s another thing, there’s not a lot of hostels for couples, I mean there’s Elliott House, that’s one of the main ones for Newcastle and that’s only a mans hostel and its only got two couples rooms and that’s the only one I know that takes couples and there’s only two yeah so its very hard to like get a couples room. Especially as they don’t know your background and they don’t know you’ve been together for a while so they don’t want you together they want to separate you. You canny win really.” Are there any other main hostels in the area? “Umm, there’s a few main hostels, there’s many women hostels, that’s the only main man hostel I know. Like you know cherry tree where Pit Street used to be, that’s where there’s an agency for accommodations but apparently they’ve got no beds either, its mad. But yeah they’ve got hostels, just no room, like on west gate hill there’s like three women hostels, no room. Is it true that some housing places give priority to people with addictions? “Yeah if you don’t have priority you don’t get a look in, you get pushed to the side, so if you’re not mentally ill, pregnant, or on drugs, so you can’t be a normal person basically.” “They’re gonna need more shelters if they want to get people off the streets aren’t they, I mean they cannot say there’s not enough houses or flats because like there’s any amount of houses but if you haven’t got the money they don’t wanna look at you. ”
STEVEN - 12th November 2017 What is your story? Uh, so basically I was in a relationship for fifteen years with me partner and uh I was living at home, had a house, had kids. I came home from work early one afternoon and she was with someone else. So it made me leave my family home. Told me like I have a home, I’m not priority. So not priority for homeless. Basically saying in some hostels you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta commit the crime to get us into a hostel. Because they’re bigger hostels, so you’ve gotta be a criminal to get in there. I’m, I’m not a criminal, no. If I don’t sit on a street corner, you know coz it gives … so like basically im great now but like … you know what I mean, like, I can’t get me head round it. It’s hard coz like im fighting the council trying to get my own place, and they’re trying to say im not priority and I, I can’t get the grasp of why im not priority, you know, its like why am I not priority? I’ve paid the taxes, I’ve worked, like ive worked overnight on Fortgate Road and now im stuck on the streets, nowhere, you cant claim dole because you haven’t got an address, cant get a job coz you haven’t got an address. You certainly cant get out of it, and the cops are saying theres no big homeless crisis in Newcastle. There is, there is coz I know know like people here, they’re homeless people. You know and like nobody seems to stop and talk to ya. Then again some of them aren’t homeless, that’s actually on the street corners. They the begging type, just beggars trying to get some money. So then like people like me…they spoil it for everybody else. Yh and n now everybody’s a druggies. Couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone about eh legal highs, people lying about all at once, I mean we’re not all like that. Now people look at us like we’re all the same but we’re not, you know, its it’s a hard life, you know, get depressed wish I was home like, ya know. Im stuck. Where are you staying? I’ve got a tent just on the other side of the bridge. So im staying in a tent up there. It’s a bit cold like, but it’s, you get by. Have you ever been able to stay at a hostel or shelter? Yh, I mean like Ive been to a couple of places with backpackers in, its £16.50 there and like they paid us into there so I stayed there for 2 days. Got a shower, something to eat, watched a bit of telly (laughs). It was nice, you know. So what was it like staying there? Lovely, lovely. It just felt secure. Safe right safe. Just like, instead of lying with one eye open, you know, if there’s ever a noise, you cannot sleep, here you get a bed. Its different, different. I mean I’ve been homeless for a while now. How long have you been homeless? Nearly 3 years, so it’s coming up now. It keeps going round and round and round and round and yh didn’t want to take it on. What has your experience been like on the streets and whats the worst things about it? Horrible and hard. Horrible, oh its heartbreaking. When you’re in a sleeping bag and you’ve got someone standing over the top of ya, peeing on ya and that. Its not very nice. Yh yh. And people just kicking you when youre asleep and in youre sleeping bag. Trying to find an alleyway or somewhere to stay or you cannot trespass in any way. You’ve gotta be careful. Whatever you do, no matter what and its so hard, I mean. And now the police come and wake you up at 4 o clock in the morning, 5 o clock in the morning. You’ve just got in your sleeping bag and you get moved again ssso it’s a big vicious circle. Whats your experience been like with the public? Some people are alright, some people… I know the public, they’ve gotta get sick of seeing beggars on like every corner coz theres a few people and I like as I say half of them have got like fat houses and things like that which annoy
me, that annoys me so much but like, some people, people are, like there is good people out there that will sit and talk with ya and spend 5 minutes to take some time and see what your story is and things like that. I mean there is good people there. Yh its alright. ive not been tret real bad bad ya know but like you don’t get tret fair do ya. What is fair and what is bad? Have you been to Crisis or Shelter or other similar organisations? Yep, I work with Crisis and CGL, and I think, I think I go three times a week for them. They’ve been alright, I mean they just help us go through all the commotion and all the councils, going through different council members, putting different petitions in and going to different councils, I mean ive tried a different council, up in kilmoth, im not from that end or nothing like that but I mean like, its worth trying at the end of the day. Gets a roof over my head, especially with what Christmas will be like. I mean im just trying to see me kids basically. It just gets a bit eh depressing this time of the year. Have you been able to see your kids recently? No, I’ve gotta get myself somewhere sorted first. Yh so… its not very nice. What do you think about having temporary shelters on the streets? See all these buildings they’ve knocked all these buildings down right, all these buildings, like they’ve knocked the big building down on Northumberland street just to show these little hexagon things right. For me that’s like, all them houses there, they could’ve houses nearly half the people in town ya know and they’ve knocked it down just to show tents. I mean what is the point of the government doing that? Knocking big buildings down where they could rehome all of Newcastle, ya know, its ugh it gets us wound up. The government don’t really know what theyre doing. They haven’t got a clue. Theyre theyre stuck. In a rut, the government and they don’t know how to get out of it. That’s how it is isn’t it they’re really stuck. Trying to say theres not a big homeless crisis. Have they ever walked through here at 2 o clock in the morning, 3 o clock in the morning ya know and seen all the people lying in the doorways. I mean ive seen it, seen it plenty of times ya know. Especially if you’re going to the library and theres people sleeping in the bins and in the bin sheds and all that. So you know, it happens. People don’t actually realize how bad it is. But when you try to voice your opinion, you get pushed out straight away. What would you say should be done to help? Erm, I think temporary accommodation would be ideal. Just to see what it would be like, sort of like a test run like. Like a trial run to see what it, the housing and begging, like, to see what it would actually do to it. I think it would at least stop a little of the begging and things going on on the streets. *****
TOM - 12th November 2017 How did you end up on the streets? It went from being with me mam, I went foster care and then i went from foster care down the wrong road and end up going to jail, I went jail a couple of times and i got out, sorted myself out, got a girlfriend, had a daughter with her, end up making a mistake and cheated on her and then she kicked us out and now I’m down on this road. I was living in hostels and that before but now they all kicked us out ‘cause I used to take like daft drugs which made us go loopy and smash like buildings up so now I’m down to this. Nought I can do about it really now. What’s your experience been like on the streets? I don’t know how to put it, I don’t know, its a bit scary. Its alright most the time but you get some crazy people and you don’t know what’s gonna happen or not. I’ve been stabbed and that so… I don’t know like its a bit hard like, its a scary experience but you get used to it after a while. 89
How long have you been on the streets? 7 or 8 months, not that long compared to my friends and that, they’ve been here for a couple of year and that. What’s your experience been like staying at hostels? Horrible. Everyone tries to drag you down. Like if you’ve never done something before or if you say you haven’t had this certain drug or whatever they’ll try and force it on you. The worst place you can put a person I think in a hostel. Horrible, worse than the streets. Only decent thing about a hostel is its an actual bed and not a sleeping bag, they’re horrible hostels. Where did you stay? I’ve been in the foyer just up the road there and I’ve been Elliott House, that’s disgusting that place, I went to go to the showers once and there were dirty dirty smack needles in the showers. disgusting if I’m honest. Do you have to pay to stay there? Yeah housing benefit pays most of it, but then you gotta pay i think £11.50 every week as well. It’s not worth paying that much for somewhere like that, especially when its that dirty and full of smack heads. Do you get support at the hostels? They say they do but i never see any support. All the hostels I’ve been when you first move in they say they’ll do this for you and that but you never ever see any of it happen. Have you been to any charities like crisis for help? I go to a place in the morning, its only on like weekday mornings, its called Ron Eager? that is the best place I’ve ever been to, like they give you hot food and like breakfast in the morning, they give you a shower and wash your clothes for you and like and like they phone up the housing advice centre for you so I think its the best organisation around if I’m honest with you. What would you say about having shelters placed on the streets? It would just be the same wouldn’t it, would drag along the wrong attention. It would just get all the smack heads around, it would just be the same problem again. The streets are fine for us, we just find our own little doorway, that’s it, no one else can get in with you there’s nothing dirty there or nought, its fine. What would be done to help the homeless best? I don’t know like I haven’t done it yet. I don’t really know, only thing I can say is give everyone a house or a flat but that ain’t gonna happen is it. I don’t really know how they could deal with it, they could deal with a few but not all of them, there’s hundreds of em. Do you have any plans for the future? Just to get off the streets and get my life together, one step at a time, first steps get off the streets definitely. ***** MICHAEL - 5th December 2017 So how long have you been on the streets? 20 weeks, yeah. Do you mind us asking why you became homeless? Yeah I went jail, and me wife cheated on me, this was back in Scotland and then I had nowhere so came here. 90
What’s your experience of being on the streets been like? Bad yeah like at least I haven’t been here as long as some people have. Have you ever stayed at any of the hostels here? Yeah been to that Salvation Army one and Elliot House for a bit, it’s horrid. Got kicked out of there though but wouldn’t go back even if they offered, it were hell. There were rats there and all. No better than being here [on the streets]. But had a fight anyway so they kicked me out. Salvation army got shut down, think its now student flats, thing is this city priorities students, that had 120 rooms and now its gone. Have you got help from any charities such as crisis? No not crisis, crisis is for spice heads. You know what spice heads are? Like fake weed. Yeah that’s the people that go there so there’s no spaces for people like me. What would you think of having temporary shelters on the streets? What do ya mean? Like tents? You’re meant to be able to stay at churches when it gets cold, -1, -2 degrees they have to let you in but not sure what’s going on with that this year.
***** MIKE - 18th December 2017 What’s your general experience been? All good really. To be honest, like, I know it sounds stupid, but I like being on the streets. Like I prefer. I mean there’s no rules. No one can tell you what to do. No bedtime. I mean I know im 20 odd but ya know, still get bed times don’t you. Um but alright. So alright but it is hard. It is a hard life but you get used to it eventually. How did you get on the streets? To be truthful, drugs. I started on them when I was 16. Ended up… just.. getting bad on them and ended up needing counseling. Have you stayed in any hostels? Yeah. I’m from Gateshead mind. I’ve been over Gateshead hostels like I been in a.. called Eslington House. I’ve been St Bede’s, Jude (something) house, I’ve been in loads of em. How have you found them? Erm so Gateshead council, they’ve sorted them all out for us but well… they’re all good. Excellent places but obviously I’ve screwed up with the drugs. What would your opinion be of temporary shelters just for the night? Oh there’s no shelter for that. You just gotta get on with it really. There’s like backpackers inn and that but its like 30, 40 quid a night and that you know so I’ve like gotta make money to get that. It’s really hard really. You’ve just gotta find your own space really. Is this where you’re staying? No no, I normally stay around there between the two shops. I just sleep on my own. Got a few layers on. I’m sweating anyways. This one… its got fur on it. Gotta keep myself warm. 91
How long have you been on the streets? Um on and off. Er. It will be… from when I was 16, now im 23. On and off 7 years. Have you had any particularly bad experiences? No none actually. Fine. Been quite happy, quite lucky. I mean I’ve had a couple of friends die and that but that’s about it. From drug overdoses. Coz I mean like, I know it sounds stupid but when you live on the streets there’s nothing to do with your time so most homeless people turn to drugs to like get rid of time ya know. Obviously we get all the peeping and that for it but it’s like… what else can we do? Do you know what I mean? There’s nothing better. I know it sounds stupid but there’s nothing better for us to do. So that’s why most of us take drugs so yh. ***** LUCY (ALIAS) - 22nd December 2017 How did you become homeless? Erm, well. This started back in 2014 when I used to live in the Tyneside Foyer. I got kicked out coz erm some people trying to rob me room so obviously I got into a fight. And I’ve been kicked out in note of hostel acceptors coz they think I’m violent. Coz I’m pregnant with twins as well What’s your experience been like on the streets? Erm hard. So far, a lot. You get a lot of abuse. You’re called all names under the sun. Most most people think you’re like a druggie coz you beg for money. but that’s really not the case at all coz you get most people that beg for drugs. Most people beg for what they really need. Obviously me, I beg personally for me dog and for me babies as well and for me. Erm but it is hard its really hard. Especially not having a roof over your head as well. You’ve gotta you’ve just gotta live by it really. You’re still human at the end of the day. Have you had any trouble with passers by? Erm, I get I get trouble every day. Yh I get some passers by that just look us up and down and call us names under their breath and everything. So yh. What’s your dog’s name? She’s called baby. I’ve had her since she was five months. She’s 9 years now. She’s a rescue dog. Do you get any help from say NHS for your pregnancy? Nothing. All I can go and do is go and see me appointments and that. Er obviously im currently working with a worker. All they keep doing though is putting us on a gateway for like hostels all around Newcastle. Erm so just gotta wait really. I’ve been waiting since 2014 for a house but or even for a little hostel. What was your experience of the hostel back in 2014? Erm, it was alright erm I didn’t know about any drugs until I went into the hostel. And then since I went into the hostel, I learnt about those drugs and everything. It wasn’t a really nice environment to be in. but it was a room, it was a roof over your head at the end of the day. I know a couple of people that moved out of of hostels coz theyd rather be on the streets than in a hostel. Coz hostels, like theyre full of drugs, can get yourself into like loads of trouble and that so I understand why people wanna move out onto the streets. But but in some cases living out on the streets is a lot worse. I’ve already got a 3 year old little girl. She’s with me mam. Do you get to see her often? No no I don’t speak to my mam. Haven’t spoken to her in years. 92
What would your opinion be of temporary shelters on the streets so just for the night to keep out of the cold? I can show you some examples? Better than anything. Yes. Carborigami? I’d stay in that! Yes definitely. James Furzer’s Homeless pods? Id definitely, id live in there! Yes. I’d prefer this actually. Its above the ground. ParaSITE? Hmm yes. Looks a bit like a tent. Tents get burnt yh. They do. Loadsa people on the streets now are dead weary about tents. Coz you get like horrible people that’s obviously in the same boat as yous all on the streets wanting to set the tents on fire. So is the risk more from other homeless people or passersby? I’d say 50/50. Yh 50.50 What are your plans for the future? Erm well I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. I was in… like before I had me little girl, erm I was in Newcastle College, doing a level 3 diploma in performing arts. But obviously I had to leave because I fell pregnant. But I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. And I’ve always wanted to be a counselor. I’ve always wanted to be a counselor as well coz ever since I came on the streets like like I speak to people that in my position and I’ve I’ve helped a couple of people as well and I wish I could help myself but I’ve helped like a lot of people. Like obviously the way I’ve been living on the streets and the way I’ve experienced stuff I don’t want people my age or younger being in the same position. So I I wanna be a counselor just to like just to give them heads up a bit and just to say like this is what you expect on the streets, this is what you need to do to avoid the streets, this is what you need to do to get off the streets. I’d love to be a counselor. Think I’d rather be a counselor than a dancer. Erm I’ve heard of me worker as well you can do like voluntary erm counseling as well so in in like… you can be next to someone that’s like professional counseling and like do voluntary work so I’d I’d rather do that really. Have you had any help from places like Crisis or shelter or any other day centres? Erm not Crisis. I’ve not had any help from Crisis. Had help from Ron Eager? Changing lives. Had help from them. Its next to Crisis. Were they helpful? Erm erm Changing Lives like er they are helpful in a way… but in some cases they don’t own ass. I’m sorry for swearing but they just don’t own ass really. Erm there’s only one worker that I really get on with, that that actually like wants to help homeless people. The other workers just wanna get paid and they just don’t really care about your situation, they don’t really sit down with you and ask you how you’ve been so.. its one thing after another really. So yh. It’s it’s a lotta it’s a lotta pressure going around.
APPENDIX B Transcribed or email interviews from architects and researchers TINA HOVSEPIAN (CARDBORIGAMI) - 4th January 2018 Transribed skype interview We are spending this year doing more admin related work or governance related, so for the longest time, the organization was just me and my friend and one or two people that just came and went and then a lot of volunteers and advisors and none of us were really paid staff. But this last year we were able to bring on a part-time executive director and she helped us build our board so now we have a full board of directors with 5 members and we have plans this year to really focus on monetizing off the design so that we can do more of our programs. So we are trying to sell more for profit so that we can fund more programs ourselves instead of through grants and donations only. How successful has Cardborigami been in achieving your aim of getting people off the streets and reintegrated into society? So as far as locally in LA and the urban homeless issue, we have not deployed shelters to be used by people yet and we’re working on it because it’s a really specific use. It’s not permanent housing, its not a shelter, its really meant to be emergency housing as a first step. So, we’ve been working all year to find the right partners and the right space where its legal and safe and people would have access to services. So we haven’t used any shelters locally. But we did do our youth employment programme and that was like there was these youth already in a programme at another organisation and then we partnered with them to hire those youth to work for us for a period of time. That was our biggest successful programme and all the participants ended up moving onto move out of the shelter that they were in at the time and into an apartment and also get a longer-term job after having our temporary job as experience on their resume. We’ve also helped rebuild in Nepal as temporary shelters and more permanent structures as well. Currently, we are really focusing on the immediate need and our long-term vision will always be to get people off the streets but right now we are focused more on how the shelter offers immediate temporary shelter. So we are going to figure out how we can get as many out there as we can. When you deployed these structures in other parts of the world, did you have to change anything about them in order to suit the local environments? Yes, not necessarily the design but the treatment is what varies. So the one we sent to Nepal used a more expensive and more durable water proofing treatment and when we were there it rained and we were able to test it out and it worked really well. The ones sent to Mexico after the earthquake, are treated in a way where its not completely waterproof so there’s variations in the treatment. I read, in an interview about your design that one of the possible outputs is to try and give people a sense of dignity. How is this achieved? That’s a big part of what we do, and its inherent in the design of the shelter. So recently, I spoke at an engineering foundation, someone asked why they would want this instead of something else. I think the pattern of the design and how its aesthetically pleasing is how it gives that sense of dignity and hope aspect to it. When we first started showing it to people that’s the first response that we got. People really liked it! Not just because its gonna give them protection like any other space but because they got to be excited about it and especially when people saw how it opened so quickly and when it closed back, it got people excited. And especially someone who knows that they can now have this as their own and take complete ownership of it. So its something that is kind of intangible and hard to quantify but its more about design, about compassion and being thoughtful about what these people are gonna be experiencing. 94
This is emphasised in our organisation and within our team too. We go out and talk to people and get training to make sure that we are not saying inappropriate things and at the same time, really when people care and want to help you can tell. People can feel that. That’s what we look for in people that work for us as well. And that’s a big part of offering that [aspect] of human dignity and decency instead of ignoring the person or treating them like their less valuable than other people just because of their situation. You mentioned treatment of homeless people before. Can you expand on this, from your experience of talking to people on the streets? In shelters, when we were speaking to people, they didn’t want to go into shelters because of [bad treatment]. So one example is someone said its like being in the army where if one person in your squad messes up, the whole squad has to be reprimanded for it. But at least in the army the people in the squad have each others backs whereas if you’re in a shelter and that happens, everyone gets in trouble, and also everyone is against each other or very defensive. So it’s just a really negative and scary environment, people steal from each other or sometimes people who run the place aren’t that great either. I’m sure that’s not in all places and I’m sure its got better but that’s what we heard. Is that partly why you came up with the idea of on-street interventions rather than a more communal design? Yeah, I think the main aspect about it is the privacy so even in a shelter, if they can use this in that space for example, the real difference is the privacy aspect and where you feel that you’re not being watched. And for a lot of people they don’t have any time like that they’re always exposed to other people or the elements. This is a big deal that we take for granted as people that have a place to go home to; being alone or not being watched constantly – privacy. So that’s a big part of how its different from other shelters. People compare it to a tent and the tiny home movement. I would say we are somewhere in between. It’s a lot more durable than a tent and more comfortable but its definitely meant to be very temporary and transitional and portable at the same time. What forms the main foundations to keep the structure grounded? So we’ve done tests with wind speed. It definitely helps when someone is inside, but even when there wasn’t someone inside, we tested it with around 100mph wind speed and it only moved a few inches so it’s pretty durable. I noticed that the Cardborigami shelters are implemented on private land only and not on public streets. How do you determine where to put them and obtain access to private land? We are really trying to work with the LA city and LA county initiatives, that are currently being developed themselves so their idea and thought is that places and worship like churches can and should offer their spaces for something like this, and also there’s a new law about parking and being able to sleep in your car. In LA this is a big thing as were such a car-oriented city. Right now they’re allowing [sleeping in car parks] and we tried to figure out, if we wanted to use these in a parking lot, how would that work? So there’s some kind of loophole where we would be able to use them in a parking lot and it wouldn’t be counted as a building, but it wouldn’t be counted as a car either. So, we are looking in to parking lots, church spaces etc. That’s the low hanging fruit at the moment. I had also envisioned working with other non-profits that have space as I know that has been done before by other organisations with similar portable shelters that worked with a mission that uses them as an extension of their shelter services, like an extra bed that they can put anywhere in their facility because they have that option. The main goal though, is to be somewhere where people can use a restroom and facilities and then also ideally have access to other services that they need like get access to medical services or social services or job placement services etc. How did you come up with the 4-step programme? That was mostly based on the research that we did like we went to the streets and showed it to people and also met with lots of current organisations that currently are working with the LA homeless population. So based on the feedback that we got from the staff and leadership from those organisations and then also feedback we got from those on the streets, we realised that its not just about giving out a shelter and its not just about throwing someone into an apartment either. It’s an issue that requires a holistic service. 95
So with our research and with my friend, who works in healthcare, and managed a company that owned a few method clinics in the Skid row area. This is basically where people come that are addicted to drugs and they get injected with this instead, to prevent them from getting a disease on the streets and also weaning them off the drugs. Therefore, they dealt with the homeless population a lot and so because of his knowledge and then our research on the field, that’s how we developed it. If we want to help people we have to figure out how we are going to measure it and make sure that its working and its not about the number of shelters we give out either as we don’t know if its helping. We would ideally like to track that person through the process to make sure they get to permanent housing and job placement if appropriate. So that’s how we developed it. In a way we’re just a small part of it, but we don’t want to just provide one part that does not really have an impact. So we have that 4-step model, we have not implemented or piloted it yet because it would take a lot of different partnerships to do it, which is again I think we all agree that that’s what’s needed to even make a dent in the issue. Collaboration and different organisations doing different things and working on different aspects of it. So we have slowly been trying to build our group and our contacts and potential partnerships to do something like that. But I think it really starts with the proof of concept, the shelter being safe enough, sturdy enough, how long it lasts etc. so we want to get some out there, even though it might not get people off the streets instantly, or we can’t implement the 4-step programme the way we’d like to, we want to start with it just being an emergency overnight shelter, and then from there, we can get the right partner to pilot the 4-step model. But, I think all of that aside, what I’ve seen as being more successful and more acceptable unfortunately by society and easier to sell is the job programme for youth. We do have a relatively large youth population in LA. We had a spike in homeless youth in LA recently so we are trying to focus on that as it’s easier to get behind. There is a higher risk but they’re at a point when it can still turn around and so we are trying to focus on those people and really just changing their future trajectory by doing the youth employment programme for example. So I think what we will probably end up focusing more on in the short term is the job programme and those shelters sold for disaster relief and then when we have enough funding, where we don’t have to convince people anymore, then we can do our 4 step programme ourselves. What are your initial thoughts on a design like James Furzer’s homeless pods? I like it. That is pretty cool. Yh I mean something like this, it’s really all about thinking outside the box. This isn’t going to bother anyone. It looks good. It’s not in the way. It takes up no space. I think its brilliant. The problem is getting people to be okay with it. How far do we have to go? Like how invisible do we have to make these people for it to be okay to help them? But it is great to see people that have these solutions. There isn’t a lack of people that want to help. It’s more of a lack of being able to work together and convince the right people that it’s the right thing to do. For me, its been really hard to get anywhere with the high-level government officials. It costs almost 100,000 dollars per person, per year to live on the streets as we are paying for things like police, ambulance and hospital bills. It would cost less to get them safe and housed. Economically it makes sense too.
JAMES FURZER (HOMES FOR THE HOMELESS) - 13th October 2017 Email interview What is the main aim of the sleeping pods? The initial aim of the pods was to highlight the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping, not just locally, but globally. There was no initial suggestion that these were to become a reality, simply raising awareness. If we refer to the actual design side of things, and what they provide in that respect, then we have to focus on the suggestion of the necessities. Shelter, warmth, protection from both the elements and the public. The ability for one to shut themselves away from the gaze of the public is something we all take for granted and is a fundamental requirement to sanity. Shelter is a basic requirement every single human requires, and even a requirement primitive man has sought. Shelter does not mean a built house, it can simply be a crevasse, void, cave etc. that can provide you with the fundamentals noted above. It was also intended to highlight a point that i have been working to change, that architecture should be readily available for all walks of life, not just those who can afford it, or who are deemed as working class. Designed space is a beautiful luxury everyone should have the privilege of experiencing, for free. I have provided a copy of a text I wrote that highlights many points you have asked above which will hopefully be of some use. In particular hostile architecture, but it does delve into theories of space and the users of the spaces etc. What is your opinion on parasitic and temporary forms of architecture? Some people seem to think that they encourage people to stay on the streets I think parasitic architecture is a fundamental move in the design industry that we should embrace. With land and space becoming ever more precious, we as designers of space, should be looking at ways to use what we can. The idea that a building could host a series of smaller off grid shelters with minimal impact I feel should excite everyone. It also allows us to understand what the fundamentals I note above really are. Small micro homes and micro shelters really use the space in a much more clever way that a large 2 million pound house, which I find rather beautiful. With regards to your comment of encouraging people to sleep rough, it’s worth noting, that many homeless individuals, do not want to be housed or homed. The streets are their home, so accommodating this is tricky. Enabling them to stay on the streets in a beautiful designed space that isn’t frowned upon is something I wish to address. I wish to create a community of homeless individuals that live seamlessly within the ‘normal community’, safely, visibly and with acceptance. So I feel we should be encouraging safe street sleeping. How did you become interested in this type of work? This type of work intrigued me. I have been lucky enough to work with private clients for the last 8 years, dealing with one off contemporary houses that cost well over 3 million pounds per build. It was during these builds that I realised there will be individuals that will never experience an architecture specifically designed for them, which is dreadful. I also noted this was mainly due to our profession being greedy in my opinion, and more concerned about the fee a space will bring, than the design of the space itself. So I’m hoping to continue to change this opinion and provide architecture for those less fortunate. What were the setbacks in your design, when it was first conceived and at present? With regards to set backs, I am currently having the same issues with a new scheme of mine, it’s difficult to get a council on board to be willing to help you install shelters, even as a temporary installation. The public perception was of course always a concern, but this cannot truly be judged until there is something for them to physically see and experience, to fully understand how they would react with this as the norm in their surroundings. I’m not sure whether the councils are scared of a public outrage by providing undesirables a shelter in a prime location, or of any other negative reaction, but the main issue, is getting government backing of sorts. My new scheme I’ve got a finalised design, backing both from a UK funder and US funder, all I need is a council willing to be playful, of which is non existent! 97
TAMSEN COURTENAY - 12th October 2017 Phone conversation • Author of ‘Four Feet Under’ looking at stories of rough sleepers in London. Can we found at bit.ly/4ftUnd • Spent shifts on the streets of London and 4 consecutive nights/ days • Homeless feel invisible because they are ignored by everyone • They live at an altitude of 4 feet above sea level, lower than the rest of society • “why don’t people speak to us?” was a comment one person made • She left her camera with them to establish trust • 17 times more likely to be assaulted without a home • No key to their own place – they are vulnerable • Doorways are great for sleeping – there is light and shelter from weather • Advice on approaching rough sleepers: don’t bother someone who is sleeping • Try not to make prior judgments • “Accommodation is key, but they don’t know how to manage a proper place as they are not used to it” • “If architecture is the bricks, managing the place is the mortar” • Opinion/ advice for temporary forms of architecture: “good for keeping relationships with others on the streets”, “has to be portable. Police move them constantly”