Nov. 8-17: Homeless shelter designs featured at exhibit

homeless shelter paper modelBy Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

PULLMAN, Wash. – WSU’s School of Design and Construction will hold an exhibition featuring student designs for portable homeless shelters, as well as a full-scale version that they built.

The exhibition will be held Nov. 8-17 in the school’s gallery in Carpenter Hall, with an opening reception 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8.

homeless shelter on WSU Pullman campus
Life-size homeless shelter tested on WSU Pullman campus.

Last year, the third-year architecture students, led by Mona Ghandi, assistant professor in the School of Design and Construction, did projects to design portable homeless shelters. As part of the project, the students were asked to design an affordable, portable, flexible, compact and efficient shelter for homeless people, using computational design and emergent technologies. The full-scale shelter that the students built is less than six-feet tall and can be folded in several different ways to serve a variety of functions.

There are approximately 1,185 homeless people living in Spokane and about 170 homeless families, most of whom are suffering from the extreme consequences of poverty, said Ghandi.

Paper and full-size models of WSU student designed homeless shelter.
Paper and full-size models of WSU student designed homeless shelter.

“The students fabricated a shelter that can better serve the homeless population and bring them back their dignity,” she said. “This shelter not only provides the safe place for homeless and accommodates their basic needs, but it also can make an environment to play. Most importantly, it can function as a business incubator or pop-up shop.

“Giving a homeless person the ability to become financially independent can lead to their recovery,” she added.

The projects were exhibited last spring in the Spokane chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ award show, at Riverfront Park Square Mall, and at the BAZAAR event in Spokane, and WSU students took the top prizes in the design competition for homeless shelters. Ghandi and the students are working with the city of Spokane on continuing the project through the long-term as a pilot program.



  • Mona Ghandi, assistant professor, School of Design and Construction, 509-335-6840,