Ruize Li

MArch I

Table and Bed: A Homeless Court in the Shelter

Advised by Mark Lee and Rahul Mehrotra

A table where judicial power is exercised is a table simply for dining, a bed simply for sleeping is a bed for social judgement. Architectural phenomena are produced through juxtaposition of functionality and power dynamics.

As a type of problem-solving court, homeless court attempts to address homelessness through the justice system. It shifts the criminal justice paradigm to an alternative law practice, hosting collaboration instead of confrontation, exercising discipline through treatment instead of incarceration. Its mechanism often requires a programmatic paralleling with social services. However, the actual homeless court practice still resides in the criminal court building type. This produces a pragmatic mismatch between its law practice and spatial experience, and an overstating of the power of state agency when facing the municipal social issue of homelessness.

This thesis is to design a courtroom that is embedded within a shelter. Deconstructing the courthouse spatial organization at different scales while blending the program of shelter and courthouse, the design aims to dissolve the political and judicial power dynamic of the court in the container of shelter while still serving as the municipal disciplinary agency.

Ruize Li, MArch I. Diagram of proposed courtroom within a shelter footprints.