The box house for the homeless people : BEONDEGI project

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The box house for the homeless : BEONDEGI project

[Project member]

Sangeun Shin(Chief Director), Hyungsub Kim, Yongsun Shin, Jihee Kim, Jungmin Lee, Sunkyung Lee, Sohyun Jun

The box house for the homeless people : BEONDEGI project



Ⅰ. Intention

All members of The ‘BEONDEGI’ team majored in Architectures. We spent 5 years studying how to make a beautiful building. Before graduation, we wanted to do a meaningful project. And it was the homeless people that caught our attention.

People in the street, confronted with a homeless, try to walk as fast and as far as possible not to face them. By designing a box house for the homeless, we wanted to make people notice, approach, be interested in and finally understand the homeless issue. 


Ⅱ. The bright side


  1. The prototype of temporary housing design

: ➀ Cardboard ➁ Vinyl  ➂ PlasticMany attempts to solve the homeless problem have already been tried. Sometimes it was driven by the government and sometimes it was driven by a social movement. And there were some designs for temporary housing for homeless. So we analyzed those previous designs and succeed in classifying prototypes that consist each part of temporary housing design.

  1. Structure : ➀ Accordion ➁ Covering ➂ Assembling  ➃ Inflatable  ➄ Cart


  1. Improvement of the prototype

    a. Concept : BEONDEGI

 ‘BEONDEGI’ means ‘cocoon’ in Korean. The concept of a cocoon is often used to represent the minority. It symbolizes the hope that a little cocoon will someday be a butterfly and fly into the world. So we used the cocoon  hoping that the homeless people will someday go into the society again.



       b.Material : Cardboard

We considered “➀ Cost ➁ Productivity ➂ Portability ➃ After use” for the material. 


➀ Cost: To run the project, it takes 10,000won(about 9 dollars) for each box. We sold the box house miniature to people after full explanation about the project. Because we had to make as many as possible box houses in this limited budget, we needed the cheapest and the most efficient material.

image005image006② Productivity: On this limited budget we couldn’t mass-produce box house. So the box house had to be something that we could build on our own.






➂ Portability: The box house had to be as light as possible so that the owner could easily carry that around.

➃ After use: Some homeless people make their life by selling abandoned papers. So the box house had to be something that the owner could sell instead of just throwing away when it could not be used anymore. 

In consideration of these 4 factors, we decided to use Cardboard to make the box house.


     c.Structure : Folded plate structure

There are lots of great projects for temporary housing. Especially the beautiful box house design of ‘Cocoon’(2005) by Hwang Kim(covering type) has inspired the BEONDEGI team. His exterior box house design work was a turning point for our team. However covering type box house could be inconvenient to users because it needs a lot of time and energy to use it.


‘Cocoon’(2005) by Hwang Kim
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 Therefore we tried to find a box house design that could fulfill ➀ Convenience ➁ Simplicity ➂ Stability ➃ Attractive design. And we found “the folded plate structure”.  To fold and unfold the box house that is folded plate structure of accordion type, it takes under 1 second. And with this, it is simple, stable to make an inner space and it’s charming design easily attracts people’s attention.




 People call the homeless “Urban Nomad” of modern society as they keep moving without a permanent housing. However, most of them have their own territory. So we borrowed an idea from ‘Address for the homeless’ project in 45th Central Glass Design Competition – no house, no address; no address, no bank account; no bank account, no job ; no job, no house.  So we decided to give address to

every cocoon house that matches each territory.




Most projects for the homeless people remained as an image. So the greatest achievement of BEONDEGI project relies on the “actualization” of idea by students.



Ⅲ. The dark side

The BEONDEGI project went on for 2 years. We studied their housing patterns, their traffic lines and their way of understanding the space. Most of all, we put all our efforts to make the most beautiful and the most efficient box house. 
But when we finally showed the world our box house, we realized that we have failed. We might have succeeded to make a beautiful, efficient box house, but we failed to make one that is “for” them. We did not understand the fact that the box house could be the letter A for the homeless. 

Only half of the homeless who were offered the box house accepted it. We missed the most important factor for design – “Consider what is best for the user”.


Ⅳ. Conclusion

When we first decided to design something for the homeless, the previous designs have inspired us in many different ways. 

The BEONDEGI project could look like a failure when it comes to a user’s taste. But if it inspires others to try something new to solve the homeless issue, it can be named as a successful project. 

Even if the project is now over, it is still going on until the homeless issue be solved. Design is not only for the ones who already have it. It is for all – All who tries to make a better world. So whoever uses our design for the good, they are our team and that is also a part of the BEONDEGI project. 

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