Cardborigami Unfolds Into a Portable Housing Shelter

by , 09/23/10

cardborigami, emergency shelter, homeless shelter, humanitarian design, recycled cardboard, eco design

During Hovsepian’s time at school she explored architectural skins and came up with the idea to design a cheap, transportable emergency housing shelter specifically for the homeless. After many iterations and design ideas, she settled on using recycled cardboard as the material because it was inexpensive, lightweight, sustainable, naturally insulated and had structural properties. Origami was the basis for the structure because it gave the cardboard even more structure and could easily be folded down for transport.

Hovsepian has built larger pavilion type shelters as well as smaller ones for individual use, and she is currently in talks with a non-profit organization called Everyone Deserves a Roof to find a manufacturer to develop the concept into a real product. Field research and testing of the current homeless shelter has already occurred on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Hovespian also hopes to refine the design so it becomes waterproof, fire-retardant, more comfortable and more portable. Eventually, the shelters would be distributed through EDAR to those individuals who need them.

+ Cardborigami


Images © Cardborigami

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  1. Daniel Schipper September 22, 2011 at 5:52 am

    This project looks a lot like this one too:

  2. AlexYarijanian September 7, 2011 at 1:39 am

    HI! I would like to inform you that Cardborigami is up for this month’s (September 2011) Pepsi Refresh Contest. This means that Cardborigami, Inc. has an amazing opportunity to win $50,000 to fund it’s non-profit organization. You can cast your votes in two ways:
    (1) log on to
    (2) Text the number 108742 to Pepsi (73774)

    Thank you so much for your support!

  3. frouste February 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Inspiration is a very diplomatic term there. :)
    Based on inherent need, it’s not surprising that many people have thought of this idea – but very few have turned the thought into action.
    I’m interested in your Shellhouse project – the introduction of a simple radio transforms the space from a cringe-worthy attempt to turn the life of a homeless person into “art”; to making it a useable innovation.
    In Australia we focus on trying to find regular accommodation and employment for people who have become homeless, rather than setting that as a long term goal and finding an interim to briefly better their life.
    Is there a way you could corroborate ideas to create something amazing?
    Random suggestion: Can you bind used plastic bags to the surface to create something more weather resilient?
    Awesome work.

  4. carolina pino October 20, 2010 at 11:48 am

    My project SHELLHOUSE LIVING PORTABLE (2007) was by any chance, an inspiration for you guys?Thanks.c.

  5. Reverse Alchemy September 25, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Didn’t Hirshen and Van der Ryn do something very similar at Berkeley in the 60s?

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