SERA joins effort to address homelessness with design of ‘PAD’

by | December 1, 2016 0 Architecture, Ideas

UPDATE: See photos of the completed project on our Facebook page.

Fourteen locally-designed and built “sleeping pods” intended to address homelessness — including one by SERA staff — will be on exhibit in early December.

SERA’s PAD, or Portable Adaptive Dwelling, is one of 14 submissions for the Partners on Dwelling (POD) Initiative, intended to ensure those without homes can remain in their communities, and aimed at setting a nationwide precedent for how municipalities help those living on the streets transition into safe, stable homes. Each pod is meant to be affordable, secure and transportable.

On Monday, December 5, the public is invited for a sneak peek of the pods at Portland City Hall, where posters will offer a look at the designs and motivations behind each project. The completed pods will be on exhibit December 9-16 in the parking lot at NW Glisan Street and Park Avenue.

Preview SERA’s presentation board (1.5 MB PDF)


SERA’s PAD was built for durability, with a wood-framed construction and steel-framed folding walls, and cedar cladding to withstand heavy Portland rains. Its folding assembly allows for expansion on site, with exterior walls designed for modification; residents can attach tarps and other materials to increase privacy, hang clotheslines, tapestries, etc., to add to their feeling of safety and ownership.

The interior is heated by a wood stove. There’s a sink for washing, a desk for meals and tasks, and secure storage for valuables under the bed.


PAD serves to restore dignity to its residents during their time of rebuilding. Its thoughtful design illustrates that houseless communities can be safe, beautiful, valued contributions to the neighborhoods they are set in. SERA built PAD for just under $4,500 thanks to a commitment by SERA leadership, a $2,000 grant from the Mayor’s office, and some employee volunteer time.

About the POD Initiative

The POD Initiative is a joint effort of the Center for Public Interest Design and the Village Coalition, which brought together a group of architects, designers, students, homeless individuals, and activists to discuss how a community of small pods and the 30×30 Initiative — 30 pod villages of 30 people — could be integrated into potential neighborhoods throughout Portland.

At the end of the year, each POD will become a home for a member of the community. Each structure was designed with a footprint less than 8’-by-12’, allowing for relocation.

Leave A Comment