Your Brand’s Body Language, Part Two

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This story is an interesting follow up to my post a couple weeks ago on bus benches being converted into temporary shelters for Vancouver’s homeless. I found another equally brilliant design solution aimed at taking spaces already used for advertising, in this case billboards, and adapting them subtly to provide shelter with some amenities and privacy for the homeless.


Before I get into the idea, I have to tell you… I always read threads beneath articles I like and it amazes me that there are so many nay sayers out there, just waiting for a great idea to tear to shreds. For as much high praise that’s been given to RainCity Housing and their convertible bus benches, there are just as many critiques of the idea. And the same is true for Design Develop of Slovakia and their inspired Project Gregory.


So here’s the Project Gregory idea: Take billboards already in use in public areas and convert them into small living spaces for the homeless.


The design plans would need to be altered for other urban areas, but for the city of Banska Bystrica in Slovakia — where roadside boards in that country feature two surfaces that face oncoming drivers in both directions — it was a pretty simple tweak to add a third wall and instantly create a small, triangular enclosure. But the design magic really happens once you step inside — each apartment includes one room with an entrance hall, kitchen with a small desk, a raised bed with storage underneath, and  a bathroom. Design Develop proposes that the revenue generated by advertisements would help offset the cost of construction, and the houses would already be wired for electricity because of the lights that illuminate the boards at night.


Most of the critics of both of these social solutions focus on the end user, not the design of the structure itself. They say it only encourages homelessness, or that the homeless will trash these spaces within days. Is that where we are now as humans? At a place where we can’t even imagine the possibility of a better life for someone based on their weaknesses or their past? I’m thankful for these design firms across the globe, creating social solutions (with awesome aesthetic appeal, no less) even in the face of skeptics and dream killers.

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