Oakland, CA artist Gregory Kloehn used to be a sculptor, peddling expensive pieces he created to rich people. Now his preferred medium is garbage – yes, garbage – that he collects to create functional structures, including shelters that he gives away to homeless people. These tiny homes are pretty incredible, and they serve a purpose while utilizing trash off the street.
Kloehn ventured into building homes as he took interest in the tiny house movement and using recycled materials for homebuilding. He began building structures out of shipping containers and dumpsters, which he sells as homes, bars, and restaurants. These led to using garbage for building. He gives these little “garbage homes” away to the area’s homeless.
The homeless shelters are small – about the size of a sofa – and are built on wheels so they can easily be moved around. They all have pitched roofs to keep the rain out.
Kloehn gathers the materials for the homes from illegally dumped piles of trash in the streets of West Oakland. Most of the homes are built with a foundation of wood pallets and are insulated with discarded pizza delivery bags. Each home has some storage space, windows, a cup holder, and a mirror.
Before coming up with the idea to create mini homes for people living on the streets, Kloehn spent time studying the shanties in his neighborhood, learning how the homeless build their shelters. He even self-published a book about it called “Homeless Architecture”. He noticed how the homeless are truly “living green” by recycling and gathering junk off the streets to build homes.
Each home takes about 2 to 3 days to make, and Kloehn has new plans in the works, including a chuck wagon and a geodesic dome.
Before I was all about sculpture, but I realized it just sits there. And you’re just peddling it to rich people. I kind of think if you’re putting so much effort into something it would be nice if it did something.
Kloehn’s ingeneuity with these projects is impressive, and it has inspired others to follow suit. He soon hopes to put on workshops to teach others how to build similar homes.