GBD Architects

“Who needs a forklift?” – The Pickup Panel System

June 8, 2017

“Homelessness in Portland is a force of nature. When eviction or disaster strikes, people should not have to wait on bureaucracy to get their most basic needs met.”

These are revelations from GBDers Trevor ClarkJim Lutzke, and Luke Smith, who wanted to design a system that takes on the complexities of home displacement, but addresses them with simplicity.   

Their concept, The PICKUP Panel System is so simple in fact, that anyone can build it. It doesn’t need an architect. It only requires a standard size pickup truck, two people, basic tools, and approximately one hour.

First, a little background: In 2015, Portland declared a state of emergency on housing. At that time, our city had 1,887 unsheltered and 3,801 homeless Portlanders. Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design (CPID) responded to this crisis by founding “Partners on Dwelling” (POD)—an initiative which called upon architects and members of the design community to dream up small dwellings that would be built to form an all-women’s community in the Kenton neighborhood. The project was so successful that CPID renewed the design competition this year, adding in another element: designs must be built from plywood.

Our team’s solution, The PICKUP Panel System, presents an alternative approach to pod design. It is based on the principle that displacement is instantaneous, and that intermediate housing solutions are about relief, not permanence.

PICKUP Panels’ modular design means that shelter can take many forms. A standard truck can hold enough Plywood Structurally Insulated Panels to assemble an 8’x12’ shelter. Adding flexibility, multiple shelters can be combined to create different layouts. A floorplan built for the individual can be expanded to shelter a family; and numerous PICKUP shelters can form a community room, a dining hall, or a place of worship for displaced Portlanders. 

The urgent nature of homelessness fueled our team’s resolve to bring some control back into the hands of those who need it—empowering people to configure their own community. 

Their work is currently on display with the other entries at The Portland Art Museum’s exhibition Quest for Beauty: The Architecture, Landscapes, and Collections of John Yeon from May 13 – September 3.

© GBD Architects Incorporated 1120 NW Couch St., Suite 300 Portland, OR 97209 Tel. (503) 224-9656

©GBD Architects Incorporated

  • 1120 NW Couch St., Suite 300 Portland, OR 97209
  • (503) 224-9656