I have designed and am building a shelter prototype called Velella to address an important and unique community need for truly affordable and safe temporary urban shelter for Alaska’s most vulnerable people.
Aesthetically pleasing, highly durable transitional living structures in which individuals and families experiencing housing crisis can safely live are practically nonexistent. The municipality of Anchorage and key partners are working diligently to address and resolve the housing crisis in our state’s largest city. Velella is an attempt to provide a constructive temporary emergency housing solution in the interim.
What if I designed beautiful inhabitable spaces with our most vulnerable neighbors well being foremost in our minds? What if the appearance and feelings generated by those spaces were valued as much by those with good fortune as those with poor fortune? Couldn’t this approach actually erase judgement, dissolve stigma and move all of us toward healthier and more empathetic communities?
Velella is a shelter fashioned to engender a sense of security and pride in its dwellers and designed to resonate with everyone, regardless of housing circumstances. This shelter is designed to be surrounded by built land forms and grouped together to establish “micro-neighborhoods” that reinforce feelings of safety, home, whimsy, belonging and inclusiveness in both the inhabitants and the larger established community. Velella is intended to provide safe space and reinforce cohesiveness for individuals and families in the midst of crisis. It is deliberately designed to equalize social and economic imbalance, combat stigma and restore social dignity. The long term goal of this project is to advance Velella to production as an aesthetically pleasing, elegant, simple to install, durable shelter that has many applications.
Funded by Alaska (May 2016)