If you’re not homeless, it’s hard to completely understand the issues that go along with not having a home, but it’s reasonable to assume that storage and safe shelter are fairly important. Zo-Loft Architecture & Design in Italy has created an interesting prototype shelter for the homeless, or for the modern urban nomad. Designed as a portable storage and expandable tent, the WheelLY is comprised of a rolling aluminum frame with two expandable polyester resin tents, all made from completely recyclable or recycled materials.

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During the day, the WheelLY can rolled around the city and pushed by the aluminum handle. Inside the rolling frame, a cloth bag can hold up to 250 pounds of personal items. The side panels of the wheel have a reflecting rim which allows the cart to be easily seen. Advertisers can sponsor the WheelLY with a logo on the side, which would hopefully pay for the cost of the structure. The sides are made out of neoprene to provide warmth and insulation when the homeless shelter is expanded.

With numerous configurations, the WheelLY can be positioned half-open, upright for use as a chair, or opened fully as a long tube for sleeping. Its diameter is 16 inches wide making it easy to pass through any door and practically any space. The aluminum handlebar is used to push the structure around on its rollers; when stopped it acts as a brake. When fully opened the WheelLY measures 11 feet long. It can also be joined to other WheelLYs to create a connected nomadic community.

Zo-Loft has created an amazing concept that could really make a difference today given the current economic climate, rising foreclosure rates, and increasing number of people without homes. Not only does it answer the some of the basic needs for individuals–the right to shelter and personal space–it also makes a simple nomadic lifestyle possible. It requires no electricity, no batteries and is simple enough in design that maintenance hardly seems an issue. This is good sustainable design at its best.

+ Zo-Loft Architecture & Design