Seattle’s homelessness problem has soared as rents have gone up, but a group of local teens have partnered up with local builders and architects to create safe, warm mini-shelters to help the homeless get back on their feet, called The Impossible City.
The Impossible City is a series of small houses in Nickelsville, a homeless encampment in Seattle by Sawhorse Revolution, a non-profit carpentry program for high school students. The project began in 2014 and is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo for the camp’s shelter, light, and sanitation.
“It wasn’t hard to realize that we really needed to engage with off-grid living practices to build for an off-grid community,” says Sawhorse Revolution executive director Adam Nishimura. “That ideal also inspired the use of salvaged and up-cycles materials whenever possible.” A salvaged aluminum panel is use for the roof, the sides of the structure are made from old street signs and re-used glass provides window for light.
Each housing unit is tailored to the needs of the camp and crafted to be of the highest quality, incorporating sustainable materials and building techniques, and beautiful design. Since the Nickelsville Homeless Community moves every 3-18 months, every structure built will be collapsible or easily transportable. The Nest, which is designed by SR students, mentored by Olsun Kundig Architects, has a lofted bed with storage space underneath, extra storage space along the side, a window seat and rubberized flooring.
So far, Sawhorse has already built a couple of portable, small shelters out of recycled materials. Their aim is to create six more personal shelters out on tensile or folding materials, using off-grid principles and concepts inspired by disaster relief housing. Another goal is to add a solar powered charging station, a community cooking space and composting latrines.
Impossible City is a great project that not only gives teens a profound educational opportunity, but also tackles the lack of affordable housing in a hands-on way. The project is expected to be completed in the next 2-3 years or more if extra money can be raised to fund additional activities.