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Rome Catholic charities to receive cardboard shelters for homeless

Students at a Rome design school have come up with a folding cardboard home, which will be used by street people cared for by Catholic charities Caritas and the Sant'Egidio Community.

Quasar Institute director Orazio Carpenzano says that the relatively lightweight "living box" has been inspired by origami, is easy to stow when folded and made without scissors or glue.

He adds that multiple copies would be donated to two Catholic charities, Caritas and the Sant'Egidio Community.

Costing around $A20, the structure is a long rectangular box big enough to lie down in and tall enough for a three-year-old child to stand in. The upper surface is inclined and there is a panel at one end that substitutes for a door.

Mr Carpenzano says cardboard was chosen for its flexibility and a capacity for insulation that is "more effective than a blanket".

Sant'Egidio estimates that between 5000 and 6000 people are homeless in Rome, which has only 2000 beds in shelters.

"The problem is under control compared with Paris or New York, but even one homeless person is a problem," Sant'Egidio's Guglielmo Tuccinei said.

"It's an interesting idea with which to approach those who, for one reason or another, have trouble leaving the street," Roberta Molina, of Caritas Rome, said.

The cardboard house can also be used for play by children or as a "second skin for those with a wanderer's soul," Mr Carpenzano said

Students fold new shelters for homeless (ABC/AFP 3/11/04)

Istituto Quasar | Living Box
Communita' Sant'Egidio
Caritas Italiana

Architect's designs provoke debate over homelessness (ABC TV 7:30 Report 27/9/04)

4 Nov 2004