Housing for the homeless is one issue society has struggled to solve, but 81-year-old architect Arthur Cotton Moore just came up with a creative answer. He wants to transform decommissioned subway cars in Washington, D.C. into snug apartments for the homeless. Each car could yield two 560-square foot one bedroom apartments.
Washington, D.C.’s 4000-series subway cars, which are over 20 years old and suffered from propulsion problems, have begun going out of service. When Moore heard the district planned to scrap the cars, he had a better idea. He told The Washington Post, “We don’t need a propulsion system if we’re going to make them stationary. They are a very nice enclosure which is watertight and has lovely windows.”
Prefabricated kitchenettes and bathrooms could make the subway cars livable. Moore told CityLab rooftop solar could power the apartments, with solar heaters providing hot water. He envisions creating a subway car village which could rest on vacant city land, where around 400 people in 86 cars could reside, according to Moore. He designed a metro car community with playgrounds, social services, vegetable gardens, and a medical clinic. There’s even land that might serve the purposes of the community: the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, an area some people want to redevelop since several sports teams have left the stadium.
There would be some barriers to overcome, such as asbestos in some of the subway cars. But Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokesperson Dan Stessel indicated to the Washington Post they might be willing to consider the idea. He said, “Just as we are providing decommissioned rail cars upon request to emergency responders in the region for training purposes, Metro will consider any viable proposal for other uses of the cars, provided that it is budget neutral to Metro and complies with all applicable laws, regulations, etc.”
Images via Arthur Cotton Moore/Associates and Rob on Flickr