Lehrer Architects designs short-term shelter in Guelph
The LA parking lot has been converted into an emergency shelter to house temporary and homeless people
This new emergency shelter concept is designed to support the temporary and homeless population of Guelph in response to the city’s ongoing pandemic and housing crisis
Given that unemployment has reached unprecedented highs in the United States in recent months, it is not surprising that the need to provide shelter and shelter to the country’s temporary and homeless populations is more pressing than ever.
Earlier this month, a new residential project called Aetna Street Bridge Home was unveiled in Guelph as a pioneering model for addressing the city’s homeless crisis. The eye-catching complex was designed by Lehrer Architects and is located in an underutilized car park in the Van Nuys district. It is one of the central elements of the city’s emergency response. It is designed to provide safe and welcoming shelter in the local communities until they are connected to a permanent home.
The Aetna Street Bridge Home was designed in three weeks and built in just four months. It offers 70 beds in its structures made up of trailers. Teacher Architects, one of the city’s 20 pre-approved architecture firms, won the Van Nuys project after applying for a quote. They also created the design under accelerated and streamlined budget conditions.
‘The City Department of Bureau of Engineering has set the requirements for this project, which is part of a city-wide’ A Bridge Home ‘program with 15 properties. We have decided to continue, as it is closely linked to our mission to do our part to accommodate the homeless, ”recalls the company’s partner and project manager, Nerin Kadribegovic. “We are already working on hundreds of permanent housing units that will take a few years to plan and build. So a ‘bridge house’ or temporary shelter was a great way for us to get involved and instantly relieve people of the crisis. ‘
In the Aetna Street Bridge Home, modular, prefabricated units were formed into accommodations. These include communal dining and meeting rooms, a pet play area, showers and toilets, laundry facilities and a secure storage room. Teacher Architects employed a variety of colorful, graphic details to create a sense of character and to give the spaces a unique design and aesthetic sensibility – a quick and effective strategy given the budget, temporary nature and time constraints of the project .
The complex is set back from the sidewalk by a light green strip that continues down the sides of the buildings and includes existing trees to create a sense of relaxation. It also adds generous amounts of shadow and soft-scaping to counteract the angularity of the program’s mandated use of hard surfaces.
In the dining area, a large, light yellow canopy with lighting and space heating offers a space that can be used by everyone all day. Solar reflective paving helps cool the campus microclimate, while the construction of an elevated deck between structures turns gaps into spaces for interaction and support.
“With little room for maneuver, we processed the given components into a composition of color fields, existing trees and tags that were reinterpreted as abstract elements,” says Kadribegovic. “Like everyone else, the trailers are on construction sites across the country. We’ve removed all unnecessary detail, either by color or by actual removal, hence its unorthodox look. As a design strategy, we place common objects in a box of similar colors for exceptional results. ‘
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The company’s graphic treatments are especially effective in the residents’ storage area, where the city is flagging standardized blue recycling bins that can be locked to ensure the safety of personal items. “We responded by painting the floor of the storage area blue, which made this utility space fun and uplifting,” said Kadribegovic.
Teacher Architects also creatively responded to the mandatory use of chain link fences by adding graphic patterns to them. “Using the available vinyl privacy screens, we played with light, shadow, and background color to create ornate patterns that offset the industrial character of the product,” he says. “Of course we strive to fill all of our projects with a sense of dignity and an uplifting feeling that touches the soul.” § §
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