Using Origami to Provide Shelter to Those in Need

Cardborigami is a collapsible, transportable personal shelter - made from cardboard.

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(Tatyana O /

Tina Hovesepian is an architect on a mission - with an interesting choice of building material. She designed the Cardborigami collapsible personal shelter when she was studying architecture back in 2007, inspired by the ancient Japanese paper art origami. Since then, Hovesepian has spent eight years developing, promoting and funding the project, in a quest to alleviate the plight of the homeless in her hometown of Los Angeles.

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Along with its eye-catching design, the foldable shelter provides instant privacy and protection from weather - essential, basic needs for people living on the street. It’s also completely recyclable, and opens and closes in less than a minute.
But it’s not just about the shelter - Cardborigami has developed a four-step plan to help people on the street. The cardboard shelter itself is the first step, followed by teaming up with local aid organizations that can provide crucial social services. Steps three and four will entail assistance with finding permanent housing, along with placement in a stable job. The nonprofit aims to guide people in need through the four-step process within a year.
As Hovesepian told the Women in the World conference earlier this  year, “The main point of why I designed Cardborigami, although it does provide instant shelter and space, privacy and protection, is to be a launching pad to get people into permanent housing…we want to empower individuals to do better for themselves.”

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