Homeless shelters often represent an invisible public infrastructure in the urban environment. This was the case of the homeless shelter in the Pantelimon neighbourhood of Bucharest, which was built more than 15 years ago as a temporary shelter space. Located on the outskirts of the city, on a fenced-off street near a temporary market, the plot is problematic as a site for construction because it contains rubble from demolitions that took place in the city in the 1980s. The space around it has limited pedestrian infrastructure and the private company that owns the plot across the street built a tall, opaque fence that contributes to the marginalisation of the area. Although the site is not suited to long-term housing, some of the residents had been using it as such since it was opened.
Aim of the intervention
The project was spearheaded by the Atelier Ad Hoc Arhitectura, having obtained a grant from the country’s Association of Architects in 2017. The aim was to improve living conditions in relation to the city’s social infrastructure through research and practice focused on informality and housing in public space.
During the project process, conversations were held with the local administration responsible for the shelter and with the shelter’s residents. After observing and talking to the residents, the designers found that, faced with homelessness, the residents had developed a support network to build a security perimeter and provide spaces for their basic needs. That network had helped them create a sense of belonging and to feel like a part of society.
The objective of the intervention was to redefine the shelter’s thresholds, using the existing available spatial and human resources to improve the living conditions and the local networks of the people who lived there. The pilot project had a budget of €10,000 euros and was intended to be applicable to various types of shelters throughout the city.
[Last update: 17/05/2023]