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Image via Project Gregory

The winter months can be a particularly treacherous time for those living on the street. Frigid temperatures can cause hypothermia — last year’s polar vortex caused at least 21 cold-related deaths across the United States. While emergency shelters and warming centres can help to alleviate this problem, many people will opt to remain on the street because they feel shelters are too restrictive or threaten their personal safety.

A billboard in Slovakia could help to change that.

Many European billboards are dual sided and V-shaped, allowing for drivers to view an advertisement from either side of the highway. Inspired by a school project, one anonymous architect deduced that by installing a third wall, flooring and a roof in the space in between, a standard billboard could be transformed into a two-bedroom temporary housing unit.

The concept, dubbed Project Gregory, was designed for the homeless community in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. The blueprints for the unit are open source and available for download on the nonprofit organization’s website, in the hopes that other cities around the world might put their billboards to good use.

The units are equipped with a kitchen, bed, desk, storage space, wardrobe, toilet and shower. Most billboards are already connected to a power grid, but those that aren’t could be hooked up to solar panels.



Images via Project Gregory

Project Gregory estimates that the operating cost of a single structure will come to about $5,3434 U.S. dollars per year. However, these costs will be offset by the adjoining advertisements, which accumulate $4,890 per year.

Additional sponsors or taxpayer money would be needed to fund the difference, but that margin pales in comparison to the amount of money spent treating homeless people who are admitted to hospital with cold weather related injuries.

While no physical billboard homes have been built yet, the project’s viral renderings have attracted strong interest from investors. Project Gregory aims to construct a model later this year to test out its design features.

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