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It is clear that communities are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Amongst the many issues during this time of social distancing and isolation, one challenge that may be currently overlooked is the lack of clean, safe and suitable housing. For this reason, this design concept focuses on tackling the growing concern of homelessness. This community of people is already more likely to have preexisting health conditions, and have proportionally less access to healthcare and basic hygiene. Due to the pandemic, the death rate amongst homeless adults in London shelters is 25x higher than the rest of the population, and similar trends can be seen in cities across the world. These people are often left scared, hungry and alone, with many places of refuge and solace remaining closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Additionally, the catastrophic economic consequences of the pandemic have unfortunately led to an increased number of people being forced into homelessness as a result of widespread unemployment.
Sanctum is a concept design that aims at providing the homeless with a secure shelter during these uncertain times. Using the existing structure of park benches, this space can be used by the public during the day, and becomes a safe haven for the homeless at night. This is all done in an effort to integrate the homeless into communal spaces instead of excluding them, especially at a time where all communities are being affected by the same issue. The design aims at solving three key issues: shelter, water, and safety. With insulating tubing on the outside, a pressure treated wooden frame, and a warm layer of plywood on the inside, Sanctum is intended to be cheap, easy to assemble, and comfortable. To give the user plenty of privacy the shelter would be lockable and opaque, aside from the two transparent roof panels. This would allow for natural sunlight to enter in the mornings, and create a pleasant glow at night due to the LED strip attached to the roof beam, powered by photovoltaic cells. The LED light shining through the transparent panels would make the structure gleam like a safe haven in the night time, attracting those in need of refuge and security. To close the structure, the two side panels would swing out from the back and lock in place, with the front section closing using copper shutters, chosen for its resilient and antiviral properties. Lastly, in order to tackle the issue of hygiene, Sanctum would also have a rainwater storage area of up to 2 litres fitted into its frame that can be used by occupants to wash their hands, freshen up and even drink due to the internal filtration system. Alternatively, the water could also be used by passers-by in the daytime.
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