SHELLHOUSE - [living Portable]




Collapsible cardboard shelters for homeless persons, using radio devices.
This is a work in progress that will provide of a house and an address to unsheltered homeless persons.
The more number of shelters we get, the more possible is to create an open network able to provide them of an address in the future.
By using recyclable material, and customizing what they already use, the idea is to build a collapsible construction with a radio device embeded it, that will transmit radio frequencies to a receiver, triggering audio samples of the person's name, age and place of origin.
In a not long future, is possible to have more alternatives of interfaces, so also interactions and a possible integration of this community.

For now been tested at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan, NY.

DiY for someone else.
Learn more in SHELLHOUSE.

total cost: $35

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Step 1: Make the Cardboard Plate

Grabb cardboard from the streets or what you have at home. Complete a plate of 7,4 x 5,5f. If you put different sizes boxes, be sure to put the stripes along the same direction.
Complete the size however you can, putting them together with strong tape.

Step 2: Measures of the Fold

Mark where you will fold.
Each fold has to be of 5,5 width.
Mark lines of this lenght accross the plate, following the stripes of the cardboard.
Try to use the folds that come with the box, remember to follow the stripes of the cardboard, after marking, folding will be in that direction always (accordion).

Step 3: Measure of the Center (cups)

Divide the cardboard plate in 2 halfs, by making a line in the middle, opposite to the lines you marked.
Then, from that line, mark 6" to each side. You will have three lines: center and 1 line in each side of it.
Use a sharp pen or pencil to mark the cardboard, this will make easier its folding.
Once this, mark crosses accross the middle line with the pen. The intersection point of the crosses will be done in the point where the crease goes up, the diagonals will go from line to line.

Step 4: Fold As an Accordion

Fold the lines you marked. As an accordion, one crease up, one crease down and so forth.

Step 5: Cut Crosses in the Middle

Open the cardboard plate: you have the accordion shape and a fold in the middle, now is time to make half cuts in the crosses accross the middle line. Use a blade and a metallic ruler.

Step 6: Folding the Crosses

Folding the crosses to make concavities or cups will be as follows: try to get someone to help you to keep one side tight keeping the shape of the accordion, while the other keeps on folding the other half.
Remember to make the accordion shape and while you go through it, the crosses will become cups, folded to the interior of the shape.

Step 7: Re-fold the Whole Shape/stripes

You can put weights on top to keep the accordion shape, while you cut stripes of 5,5f by 5,5". This stripes will help the structure to remain stand-up. Take the shape and glue the stripes in each extreme.
The stripe will go from one side to the other. Use strong tape to glue them.

Step 8: Embed Radio Device

Please go to get the step by step of how to set up the radio module.

Step 9: Give the Shelter to Homeless Person

You had built the shelter, the radio device is ready.
You spent $35 in the whole experience, learned how to make something from used materials, got something about electronics...
Now please mail it to:

St. Francis of Assisi Church
135 West 31st Street
New York, NY 10001

Where the circuit you made, will be programmed and set to talk to hand held receiver

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    77 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    well I like the shelter idea but the whole radio communication thing is a little much and not cost effective not to mention the whole big brother thing a lot of homeless people choose to live that way just to get away from the system so making one and giving it away with out the person knowing what they are getting into is wrong but if they don't mind rfid is a lot simpler and cheaper say $0.50 not to mention no need for power and weatherproof an rf tag reader is easy to build and a simple web database for there info and your set. but if tracking location a PIC chip and a simple fm transmitter heck the PIC can broadcast there data in digital form and a simple program can decode it and a cheap solar light can power it.

    If I wanted to spend $35 per person id get them a tent for $15 and spend the other $20 pimping it out solar lighting, alarm clock, fm radio, air bed and much much more between walmart and dollar tree they would have a place to call home


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This would actually be more useful for emergency use, for instance following an earthquake or Tsunami. The radio aspect of it would provide a way for authorities to track family members for eventual re-uniting. Many people in Haiti are still living under tarps, pieces of cardboard, or salvaged tin sheeting. Relief workers are providing tents if the can get them. These shelters certainly would help those that are all alone or still separated from any surviving relatives, would probably work in Japan as well.


    Seriously, what's up with the radio thing? What exactly is it's purpose?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, and one more question. What is meant by 7,4 X 5,5 for the cardboard measurements? Please reply ASAP to the email already given below.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Replace homeless people for adventurous middle-upper class adolescents and this will work nicely.

    homeless people don't need this, wont use this and don't care about this. Homeless people need a family that cares for them, a health care system that considers them and a government that puts outs laws that protects and gives them opportunities to rise trough education.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    All things considered, a cheap tent and a 'space blanket', are lighter and more mobile than lugging around cardboard. I have lived on the streets. Its not something I would want to lug around with me.

    You say: This is a long term goal, that haven't succeed, because of people not collaborating, finally.....c.

    Who are the people not collaborating? The homeless? I think we would all appreciate some feedback from the homeless who have actually 'road tested' these shells.

    I can see your point re the radio tagging, but realistically cant see them surviving long enough to be effective: theft water damage, wear n tear.

    It is an indictment on USA politicians that this situation of homeless exists in the 'richest nation in the world'. What is the military budget again......?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    So why aren't there any hard-shell tents in the stores? I tell you why ... fabric tents are cheaper (even compared to cardboard) because they last, 100x more portable, and less humiliating than living in cardboard. Also ... funny no pictures of someone actually in it ... is that because the cardboard has to be exceptionally long to work? I think so. I mean the folds mean a 6 ft. person will need a 9ft. long piece of cardboard that when folded up will basically be huge and heavy, and when setup appears to practically touch all sides of the person. Big the big issue is that a piece of plastic in their pocket is nearly as good as this thing, and homeless people typically don't like hauling around a home -- thus the reason they're homeless - those that don't want to be homeless need a better solution than this. A MUCH better solution - like a tent or shelter with beds. You need to start thinking like a homeless person if you want to help them. This is a laudable, but failed effort. Sorry. Best of luck in rethinking how to really help them.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Ever tried using corroplast? It is commonly used in the sign making business to make waterproof signs. Its like corrugated cardboard, but it is plastic. Thus, the plast part. I dont know if it would fold the same as cardboard, but with it coming in different thicknesses and sizes, it might work. Just a thought...


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking the same thing at first but if they had $26 dollars then this wouldn't be necessary. While I understand that the intention is good, I'm worried about the whole radio tracking aspect. It's like homeless people are being asked to give up a certain level of self-determination simply because they don't have a roof over their head. Maybe the actual solution would be putting a real roof over their head. Because many homeless people are dealing with a myriad of issues that are exacerbated by the instability of homelessness our city practices a "housing first" approach that has actually been more effective and affordable than the shelter system.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I agree,cities own vacant properties,that with minimal donations and work provided buy the the homeless could be fixed into pretty o.k. places to live,then with a actual adress some of the homeless could get jobs,and those that are unable to work could then receive other help,its hard to do much without an adress.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    For $35 couldn't you just buy a tarp and create a water tight shelter with some rope and possibly some pvc or wood? Sure it wouldn't be as cute, but it would keep rain off and would probably take a lot less labor or design time.

    Ok, even though cardboard isn't very waterproof, in a light drizzle (cardboard will hold up against that, i know) the cups will catch water and leak horribly. it is a nice design though.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    interesting idea, I don't really know about the radio controller That step seems pointless. You probably be better off in making this shelter and giving the homeless person a TRACPHONE. Heck, they're only $10 and have $10 cards now.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    this is ridiculous and pointless and will never work. it is, however, cute...