Building a sleeping pod at the Portland Art Museum

by | July 27, 2017 1 Architecture, Ideas

Late last year, a team of volunteers at SERA unveiled a designed-and-built sleeping pod as part of a larger effort to address homelessness in the city. This year, SERA accepted second challenge – this time designing a pod with a focus on simplified assembly and replication. On August 20, the pod will be built live for the public at the Portland Art Museum for Miller Family Free Day.

Download the PlyPAD design poster (1.42 MB PDF)

“With our office located in the center of Old Town, we are reminded every day of just how pervasive and devastating homelessness is to our most vulnerable population,” said SERA’s POD project manager Timothy Bestor. “When we received the initial call for entries we were excited to participate and help in any way we could.”

CPID reached out to teams again this year, asking the group of designers to iterate a sleeping pod using plywood as an affordable building material, and CNC technology as a means of precise-replicable construction. In this application, CNC – or Computer Numerical Control – is a technology that guides a router bit to cut precise patterns in plywood from pre-programmed templates.

SERA pitched in once more, delivering “PlyPAD,” a pod consisting of a series of modules that easily snap and bolt together, with added features like clerestory windows and a covered porch with built-in bench.

Among the new round of pods that were designed and submitted by participants, SERA’s PlyPAD was chosen to be built on site at the Portland Art Museum.

Save the date: Building PlyPAD – Aug. 20, 10a-5p at the Portland Art Museum

In an email, Todd Ferry of the CPID said that a review committee consisting of members of the museum, Hazelnut Grove, Maslow CNC, the City of Portland, the POD Initiative and Village Coalition were “extremely impressed with every one of the designs submitted, but the considerations of constructability, design quality, livability, and possibilities for exhibition and staged construction at the museum made the SERA pod stand out.”

In partnership with the Portland Art Museum’s current exhibit on John Yeon – the Portland architect famous for using plywood in design – the project will be constructed in a free event during the museum’s busiest day.

A model of PlyPAD illustrates how the individual modules come together to form a customized pod.

Credit for SERA’s PlyPAD goes to employee volunteers Timothy Bestor, Walker Holt, Noah Ives, Artur Grochowski, Reid Weber and David Stephenson.

About the POD Initiative

Led by PSU School of Architecture’s Center for Public Interest Design (CPID), the POD Initiative was created to provide dignity, a sense of ownership, and a safe place to rest for the city’s underserved. Organized in 2016, teams from around the city were asked to design pods with basic amenities – a locking door, bed, storage, seating and an operable window – that could be transported once built. SERA joined in, creating a modern, foldable design that allowed the pod to expand onsite – maximizing interior space and creating a covered porch to encourage community interaction.

Today, SERA’s pod and 13 others are housing community members in a Kenton neighborhood village.


One Comment

  1. This is so innovative, cool, and efficient! So many people could benefit from this kind of temporary, portable housing, and it so worth the endeavor to get it right and affordable so it can help the maximum amount of people. Plywood has for so long been a great versatile material, its perfect for this kind of project. Thanks for the work you do and sharing it with us!

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