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San Jose considers tiny homes for homeless in bid to appease NIMBYs

Designs range from sloped-roof units to rows of rhomboid shelter

A rendering of designer homeless shacks, red, cube-like units with sloped roofs.
Gensler’s “folding home” design.
Rendering courtesy of Gensler

On Monday, San Jose released two designs for tiny home shelters for the homeless. The shelters, created by San Francisco architecture firm Gensler, are a bid to east city’s ongoing homeless crisis while appeasing cantankerous neighbors.

San Jose Mercury News writes, “The two concepts designed by Gensler architectural firm at no cost to the city were created to be aesthetically pleasing, according to city staff, but also to be efficient, safe, practical and comfortable.”

The shelters would range from 80 to 140 square feet. The first design, dubbed the “Folding Home,” is a tall, slope-roofed single unit.

The second design, christened the “Better Together” model, feature rows of rhomboid shelters side by side, looking like futuristic boxcars.

One of the Genslder designs for San Jose “tiny homes.”
“Better together.”
Rendering courtesy of Gensler

As Gensler design manager Paul Pannell told KTVU, the idea with the cubist look is to “give back to the community something that is visually and aesthetically pleasing.”

Or as the Chartered Institute of Building (a private group for professionals in construction and design fields) put it on their Global Construction Review site, the intent is “to appease NIMBYs.”

While the city has agreed to a pilot program creating tiny homes as temporary shelters for the homeless, the big hurdle has been where to put the dispossessed residents. Of 221 originally proposed sites, the city has disqualified all but 37.

The Gensler designs call for “green berms” and “green boundaries” around the camp sites, along with central plazas and a 10-foot setback from nearby streets in an effort to make the area look as visually pleasing as possible. The actual housing composes only a tiny part of the proposed area.

While the small abodes are billed as short-term solutions, it would take a year to plan and build. The city has until 2022 to build the homes.

The first site design.
Alternate design.