The homeless crisis demands serious answers from architects

Mark Middleton

Temporary shelters should be the preserve of student projects, says Mark Middleton

Last year, I visited our new studio in Los Angeles and stayed downtown. On the first morning I took out my phone to order an Uber and on the screen it looked like I could walk there. With few opportunities to get anywhere on foot I thought I’d take this chance.

As I left, the concierge asked if I needed a car so I told him I intended to walk. Surprised by my reply he asked where I was headed. “Factory Place in the Arts District,” I said. His face dropped. “Sir, you do know you have to go through Skid Row to get there?” I didn’t. “Is it a problem?” I asked. “I just wouldn’t advise walking there: you’ll get robbed for your shoes,” he said, adding that it was dangerous and that I should just get an Uber and I’d see what he meant.

I left downtown in a Prius. We soon slowed to a snail’s pace, rolling down what was a four-lane street with sidewalks on either side, reduced to a single lane by rows of pop-up tents, tarpaulin-sheathed shelters and cardboard structures punctuated only by a few bedraggled inhabitants. It resembled a refugee camp and I was genuinely shocked by the sight.

This content is available to Registered users

You are not currently logged in.

LOGIN or REGISTER to access this story

LOGIN or REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts.

Take out a subscription to BD and you will get immediate access to:

  • Up to the minute architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Our monthly digital edition including stunning photos, building and technical studies
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a print copy of WA100 when it is published in January

Get access to premium content subscribe today