Hospitals are the most expensive form of housing. New research suggests that it is far more cost-effective to purchase dedicated housing for homeless patients for an entire year than to house them in a hospital bed for a single week. In response, healthcare systems are experimenting with purchasing housing for their most vulnerable patients: the chronically homeless. I argue that these two programs of healthcare and housing are inextricably linked and that such institutions must be better integrated to address the needs of the communities they serve.
The thesis proposes a hybrid typology that operates at a middle-scale—in between an institution and a house—combining clinical care with supportive housing. Building on Dr. Charles Davis’s description of architectural hyphenation, this “hyphenated” typology stitches together layers of elective care to address the individualized needs of unhoused people. The project also serves as a counterpoint to strategies of defensive urbanism, which aim to restrict public space to specific populations. Uncomfortable urban furniture, fences, and spikes prevent homeless occupation. Therefore, while spiky, rough, or overtly figured surfaces prohibit, lack of texture, smoothness, or blankness might serve as an invitation—creating an anti-anti-homeless architecture.
Through careful examination of the site in downtown Los Angeles, “Hyphenated Housing” theorizes a method for introducing a new architectural type into neighborhoods already populated by those experiencing homelessness. Its vocabulary seeks to harmonize both the blank banality of nearby light-industrial buildings and the culturally and aesthetically significant architecture of the area’s historic Black community.