Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Park Your Life in These Repurposed Garages

A design by architectural firm Levitt Bernstein that converts unused garages on London housing developments into popup homes was the winner of the Building Trust International’s HOME competition, which sought to provide “residents most at risk in developed cities with a safe place to live.”

The Levitt Bernstein units are part of a larger project they call HAWSE (Homes through Apprenticeships With Skills for Employment). The homes provide shelter for their occupants as well as trade skills as they are involved with the assembly of the unit. The house provides low cost housing (£11/week) for a year or two before the occupant moves on to other developments and the structure is demolished. We’re not sure why they wouldn’t remain as ongoing housing, though it likely has to do the fact they’re using someone else’s property.

The units are a mere 118 sq ft and feature their own bedroom, bathroom and living/dining area. We particularly like the wall-through sink between the bathroom and kitchenette. Each fifth garage will have a communal laundry, additional kitchen equipment and a dining area.

HAWSE is meant to use under-used spaces in expensive, high density areas, in this case East London. We’ve seen other garage-cum-homes with the same mission intended for New York City, but this one seems much more thought out. The other designs, particularly the upLIFT design (below), proposed using highly used, revenue-generating parking spaces as housing for the homeless, which seems like a tough sell. Focusing on using under-used spaces like HAWSE makes a lot more sense.


There was some controversy (possibly manufactured) reported in the London Evening Standard. An architect called pop-up housing “morally bankrupt” and not addressing the causes of homelessness. We think it’s a pretty great idea and a creative way to make increasingly expensive cities accessible to diverse populations.

What do you think? Is this smart design or a bandaid on larger social and economic woes?