3D Design Students Develop Design Solutions to Address Homelessness

This spring, Mrs. Silverman’s Junior Portfolio 3D Design students were challenged to devise an original, creative solution to address homelessness. Students used the design thinking process to explore and research the problem of “basic human needs.” A key component of the design thinking process is empathy - a capacity to try to understand the needs of others which may be different from your own, in order to serve their needs. 
Archmere’s art program was just rebranded as the Art & Design program to more accurately represent the breadth of electives currently offered in the program, nearly half of which are design-based.
“We renamed the department because it is important to communicate that the work being done by our students is interdisciplinary, contextualized problem solving, oftentimes crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries and even incorporating aspects of science and engineering,” says Department Chair Stephanie Silverman ‘00.
Students conducted research to explore and understand the scale and scope of the humanitarian problem, including current solutions for disaster and emergency housing, permanent/semi-permanent housing, global refugee living conditions, and statistics on homelessness and displaced people in temporary housing.
Students used the design thinking skills and process framework to conduct research, complete preliminary work (including inspiration imagery to inspire systems, forms, structures and possible applications of existing or new technologies and materials), and design prototypes for an original human shelter solution. 
Students had the freedom to determine the parameters of their original shelter design (cost, scale, portability, what housing/shelter crisis or need your design intends to address). For example, students could choose to create a pop-up or portable shelter for homeless children and families in urban US cities, or perhaps creatively repurpose empty shipping containers to create semi-permanent or longer-term solutions for refugee camps. Students were responsible for identifying the parameters of their population, purpose, and solution. 
Students created models and drawings using a variety of traditional and emerging technologies, such as sketching as well as modeling their concepts in TinkerCAD, a free, open-source 3D modeling software used for 3D printing.
Design Considerations for the project included:
  • Materials/cost (factors that impact the accessibility and scaling of the design)
  • Transportability/compression/collapsibility/ease of assembly
  • Permanent vs. temporary
  • Features such as solar energy, protection form elements, comfort, aesthetics, beauty, design
  • Consideration of natural forms and structures for inspiration into elegant form/function solutions
  • Identification of manufacturing processes and materials best for your design
  • Consideration of environmental impact: re-use, recycling or creative repurposing of existing materials, perhaps from entirely different contexts, as viable options/solutions.
  • Completed concept sketches from 4 angles, with dimensions notated on each (in inches or feet)
  • Detail sketches illustrating a special feature or construction detail to highlight/showcase
  • List of materials and short description of concept/population this design solution helps and the needs addressed by your design (description of your own self-identified design constraints/considerations based on your research)
After completing thorough research, students then created a fully operational/functional prototype/scaled model of their designs including a human figure to convey scale/dimensions.
Finally, students prepared and delivered a formal presentation as though they were going to “pitch” their design concept to a boardroom of investors. 
Click here for a presentation with voice-over by Helen Qi ‘23 to learn more about her original design solution, “The Moveable.”
Archmere Academy is a private, Catholic, college preparatory co-educational academy,
grades 9-12 founded in 1932 by the Norbertine Fathers.