[Plywood] POD Initiative

[Plywood] POD Initiative

The [Plywood] POD Initiative sought design proposals that explore innovative strategies which take advantage of plywood’s inherent properties toward beautiful and dignified transitional housing for the houseless. Holst wanted to build upon the work done previously during the first POD Initiative by expanding on the themes of adaptability, efficiency, and beauty. By designing a process for expansion, the sleeping pod is able to transform from temporary shelter to more permanent housing. Holst upheld a priority to change the public perception of the houseless community by empowering individuals to modify and expand their own dwelling as they see fit and providing a design quality that reflects the dignity of these individuals.

During the design process, we became interested in the potential for tying the building and its inhabitants to a larger community. Our hope is that Cabin B not only plays an important role in providing shelter for the houseless communities in Portland, but that it plays a part in the broader economy of Oregon by utilizing a locally sourced and manufactured building product and mass-producing it on a large-scale. The basic component of the sleeping pod is a 2’ plywood module that is fastened together using a mechanical hinge system. This module provides the possibilities of configurations that are not limited to an 8’x12’ footprint, allowing the original A-frame structure to adapt to its inhabitants. The dowel rod fastening system allows the building to swivel open where desired to create a more expansive front porch to re-enforce a shared sense of community within the village.

A single module is fabricated using a standard 4’ x 8’ sheet of 5/8” plywood cut in half and paired with CNC manufactured CLT finger joints to form an insulated structural panel that can be fastened using a mechanical dowel rod system. This system creates an easy process for assembling or re-assembling a structure to address different programmatic needs or site related concerns.

Assembly Process

First, platforms are built out of the module and would form the base of the construction which could be configured either in groups of multiple living units or a single dwelling. Walls would be made of several modules and mechanically fastened to form a structural base for a modified Cabin A. The structure’s walls would then be clad using materials selected by the village residents. The structure of Cabin A would act as the roof for Cabin B, completing the original design concept intended to offer a more robust pod design that includes both living (Cabin B) and sleeping spaces (Cabin A).


The manufacturing and delivery of each module lends itself to a public/private partnership where funding is provided by governmental organizations or non-profits and carried out by private companies. These private companies would construct and deliver the modules to a houseless village where design and construction would be carried out by the residents to fit their site-specific requirements. The module could also be employed to build communal service pods that house shared amenities like kitchens, toilets, and bathing facilities.

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