In response to the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles studio has proposed DOME, a stackable, modular furniture system that would provide affordable and flexible interim housing for the homeless. The patent-pending design was created after months of research — including visits with community members, fabricators and operators — in the studio’s Innovation Incubator, which provides micro-grants and support to employee projects.

diagram of house pod with bed and closet

Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles studio drew inspiration for the DOME project from L.A. Mayor Garcetti’s A Bridge Home initiative, a program to provide emergency homeless housing in the city. According to the firm, nearly 60,000 people are in need of adequate housing in Los Angeles on any given night, yet nearly three-quarters of those in need forgo the shelter system in favor of living independently in tents outdoors. To provide a lifeline to those individuals and to meet the city’s goal to create 1,500 new beds by 2020, Perkins and Will designed the DOME to not only meet the basic necessities of privacy and safety but to also provide for efficient storage and shipping, low installation costs and easy configurations.

Related: LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot

diagram of several housing pods linked together

Having tracked down a potential fabricator — Kansas City-based SHIELD — Perkins and Will estimates that each collapsible DOME unit would cost $4,749 and range from 42 to 55 square feet in size. Each unit would be equipped with all of its own essential furnishings, including an extra-long twin bed with room for storage underneath, a lockable wardrobe, partitions, an aisle light, an outlet and an optional kennel area that accommodates up to a 30-pound pet. Low-maintenance, solid surfaces would be used for the exterior shell and internal shelving, while birch plywood closet doors lend warmth to the interior. An optional fabric canopy could be added for additional privacy.

diagram of sleep pod plan dimensions

The modular nature of the design would also give operators the flexibility to add or remove units as needed or to even combine units to accommodate couples or to create social spaces. “DOME could have been a utilitarian box, but this isn’t just about putting people in beds as quickly as possible, it’s about attention to detail and experience,” said Yan Krymsky, design director and principal at Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles studio. “We want it to feel residential, not institutional. It sends a message that people care.” A DOME prototype is currently on show at the Architecture and Design museum in Los Angeles; the firm hopes to get DOME into production as soon as possible.

+ DOME

Images via Perkins and Will