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An Architect Is Taking On Homelessness By Creating Beautiful Cardboard Houses For The Needy

She's taking her innovative designs from her backyard to cities across the world.

Tina Hovsepian was born and raised in Los Angeles, and as a resident, she witnessed firsthand one of the worst homelessness epidemics plaguing the United States on the streets of downtown LA, in an area known, formally, as Skid Row.

Studying architecture in school, her path allowed her to work towards a solution to address and help the homeless she saw every day on her city’s streets. In one of her architecture school classes, she focused on creating a product that was inexpensive and durable enough to create temporary housing for the homeless. After experimenting with many different materials, she found that cardboard was the optimal material for her product, not only cheap, strong, and insulated, by recyclable as well.


She called her class project “Cadborigami,” and the name stuck.

Speaking to Uproxx, Tina explains how her product addresses many of the logistical issues faced by the homeless. She says, “Because of the folding pattern, it’s more structural than a tent is. It resists impact loads and wind loads much better, and when you’re inside, if it’s cold outside, it’ll be more warm. If it’s warm outside, it’ll be cooler inside.”

Tina Hovespian is now out of school and supervising the growth and implementation of Cardborigami shelters to not just the homeless in Los Angeles, but all over the world. Further, she’s working to not just treat the symptoms of homelessness, but the root causes, allowing for the promise of a better life for those she reaches. Her website outlines a plan not just to offer temporary housing for the homeless, but to help them transition to more stable lives through the provision of mental care, job search assistance, and placement in low-income housing.


Her site also offers the option to buy a Cardborigami shelter for $250 directly, or donate to help their spectrum of efforts.

For her innovation and dedication to the cause, Tina was recently named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 as a “Social Entrepreneur.”

While there’s been no shortage of accolades bestowed upon Tina for her work, she feels that she’s just getting started. She says of her hopes for the future in an interview with Interior Design, “I think big, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get this far with Cardborigami. I’ve always wanted to be a developer, to be in charge of my own work and develop what I’m working on and have my say in the design—to be both architect and client.”


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