Grand Designs Live Showcase ‘Homeless’ Cabin

Grand Designs Live Showcase ‘Homeless’ Cabin

Multi-award winning Architectural Designer James Furzer of  Clear Architects collaborated with this year’s Grand Designs Live to bring his concepts for ‘Homeless Cabins’ to life.

With around 1100 people sleeping ‘rough’ each night on London’s streets alone, James’s ingenious solution recognises the increasing issue of homelessness in the UK, and the need to provide a safe haven for those with nowhere to sleep.  Recent ‘defensive’ architecture aimed at deterring rough sleepers (e.g spikes in building voids and uncomfortable benches), does little to tackle the problem of homelessness and simply makes their lives more miserable.

The ‘Homeless Cabin’ has been designed to be used both independently and to form a community of cabins which provide a place of shelter, and safety. Visitors to Grand Designs Live could view a prototype shell outside Hall 5 and a further partly constructed cabin within the Grand Theatre which showed the ‘inner workings’ of this potentially life-changing project.

James Furzer, Part III Architectural Assistant, Clear Architects: “As architects, we should be using architecture as a tool to help change the current perception of homelessness and provide thoughtfully designed spaces for those less fortunate. A place of warmth, security and privacy, where one can gather their thoughts and regenerate away from the public eye. In short, a worldwide, immediate, temporary solution to rough sleeping”.

This controversial subject was explored by a panel of experts, including TV Presenter Kunle Barker, and James Furzer, of Clear Architects, as they discuss the ‘Rise Of The Rough Sleeper’ at the Grand Theatre on the 12th October 2018. With Birmingham currently at the forefront of the homeless crisis, this session will debate what can be done quickly to ease suffering and reduce the shocking statistics.

Melanie Clear, Founder & Practice Director at Clear Architects said: As a practice we have always sought to support the ‘uncomfortable’ social causes, taking on several charitable challenges each year. We are immensely proud of James’ work, his passion and inspirational designs to provide respite and safety for those most in need. It is fantastic to see Grand Designs take up the debate and further the nation’s awareness of this incredibly complex problem”.

Anthony Goodey, Event Manager, Grand Designs Live commented: The team behind Grand Designs Live are thrilled to be working with James Furzer on this project. Offering an innovative, cost-effective solution to the UK’s homeless crisis should be at the forefront of all our minds as a growing concern. Grand Designs is synonymous with pioneering innovation – no matter what scale. The rise of the rough sleeper in the Midlands has recently been brought to our attention, so this is a perfect feature for our Birmingham based show which I know will resonate with our visitors”


This is a subject which is close to James’s heart, appalled at the criticism leveled at ‘rough’ sleepers and using his architectural background, he set out to find a solution. Drawn from the simple beach hut, previous concepts have been critically acclaimed including the innovative ‘off-the-ground’ pods, which could be suspended from an existing building above street level.

To ensure designs are as simple as possible, materials are carefully selected to enhance the thermal qualities and natural lighting of the shelters. Each concept is designed to be easily adapted to become self-sufficient, meaning no mains electricity would be required. Inside would be a simple material design and fit-out, providing the minimum requirements for a secure and comfortable night’s sleep including a shelf with a mattress, along with spaces for storage. A simple pull-down surface can be used to socialise or eat which can be folded away at night. The concept is not about providing a ‘luxury nights stay’ but an appropriate atmosphere for safe sleeping.

Grand Designs Live – NEC Birmingham 10-14 October 2018.

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