streetURCHIN is a watertight urban tent constructed from discarded plastic shopping bags, rubber bands, and used water bottles. streetURCHIN was conceived following an invitation for the IDC to exhibit work in the Pass It On: Connecting Contemporary Do-It-Yourself Culture exhibition hosted by the A+D Gallery in Chicago. In response, the IDC worked with a team of students at UL Lafayette to design and construct an urban tent for Chicago’s homeless that was safer, drier, warmer and more portable than the cardboard tenements currently deployed, using only discarded materials and simple methods of construction. Although programmatically simple, the distinct client, strict budget ($0) and tight timetable (five weeks) challenged our design team to create a method of working that would allow us to move seamlessly between acts of design and construction. 

The eventual product of these efforts, affectionately called Street Urchin by its creators, uses simple, repetitive techniques to produce a completely watertight and easily transported shelter from nothing more than discarded plastic shopping bags, rubber bands, and used water bottles. In order to disseminate their findings to the widest audience possible and encourage others to build upon their work, our team created a small, pocket-sized manual that uses simple graphics and photos to describe our twelve-step construction process. We then sent hundreds of these booklets to the A+D Gallery of Chicago as well as a local art gallery, where patrons to these venues were invited to take a copy, build alternative versions of the work, enter into the issues faced by the homeless, and get involved in finding a more permanent solution.

EXHIBITIONS include: “Pass It On: Connecting Contemporary Do-It-Yourself Culture**,” **A+D Gallery, Columbia College, Chicago, IL (2007) and “re:ARCHITECTURE,”, Poznan, Poland (2010). 

CITATIONS include: Interior Design (March 2008, 254-5) and the American Craft Council (April 8, 2010).    

PUBLICATIONS include works by the University of Technology at Eindhoven (2007), the Industrial Designers Society Of America (2008), and Design Corp (2007). 

FUNDING SUPPORT: The International Design Clinic

PARTNERSHIPS: The International Design Clinic, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the A+D Gallery of Chicago, and Columbia College.