‘gimme shelter!’ is a social sculpture providing protection and privacy for people without housing.
Homelessness is a social reality, especially in urban areas. For people without housing public space is home. They are visible yet invisible. Accordingly, people without shelter are a natural part of urban space, but at the same time their position in society is characterized by a high degree of invisibility and vulnerability.
Shelter is not only a basic need but also an essential human right. The pandemic has shown once more that the lack of housing poses immense challenges regarding personal safety and privacy for a significant amount of people in cities. In times of an order to stay at home the question where people without housing should go is inevitable. Cities need to attend to all inhabitants and thus seek solutions for social care while providing the option to social distancing which is almost impossible to realize in group shelters. The vision of an urban cocoon that merges aesthetic qualities with social functionality arises from the belief that cities have to deal with social justice and the quality of life of all their residents. ‘gimme shelter!’ is not just the idea of a functional shelter for homeless people, but also an urban sculpture: a soft cocoon as objectified solidarity offering protection and a temporary home.
The foldable hydraulic structure is a low-maintenance and durable solution. It needs to be attached to a wall and contains a foldaway bed and a shelf. The shell is a pneumatic membrane made out of translucent ETFE foil that retains warmth and screens the resident from view. ‘gimme shelter!’ offers individual sleeping accommodation in the immediate vicinity and thus respects the right to self-determination. It represents a particularly low-threshold offer for all those who decline other accommodation options, e.g. due to health risks or because their pet might not be allowed in a group shelter.
The aim of the design is therefore to create an attractively designed place of security and protection for a social group that can otherwise only claim public spaces. ‘gimme shelter!’ is the spatial expression of the symbiosis of urban aesthetics and social functionality.