Pod Build Challenge

April 05, 2019

On April 5 local construction firms will participate in the Kenton Women’s Village Pod Build Challenge, a design-build competition with the purpose of creating 21 new sleeping pods for women transitioning out of houselessness.

The challenge was created and organized by architecture firm SRG Partnership, the Andersen Construction Foundation, Catholic Charities, Portland Homebuilders Foundation, and the Portland State University School of Architecture Center for Public Interest Design (CPID). It represents the latest step in the evolution of sleeping pod designs that were originally generated as a part of the POD (Partners on Dwelling) Initiative in October 2016. This initiative encouraged architects to collaborate on sleeping pod designs with members of the houseless community and resulted in the construction of 14 volunteer-built prototypes which provided the foundation upon which Catholic Charities, in partnership with the Portland Mayor’s Office and local nonprofits, built the Kenton Women’s Village. Since its inception in June of 2017, the Kenton Women’s Village has successfully transitioned 23 women out of houselessness and into permanent housing solutions.

In order to accommodate an affordable co-housing development on its original site, the Kenton Women’s Village recently moved to a neighboring property up the road. With the relocation, the City of Portland and Catholic Charities found an opportunity to improve upon the infrastructure of the previous village through upgrading services to the sleeping pods and increasing the number of women served. SRG championed the effort, acting as Architect of Record to obtain a site permit for the new location in collaboration with consultants KPFF, PAE and PLACE. The process included working with the City of Portland and the Bureau of Development Services to address expanded infrastructure services such as power, water and sewer, while establishing a template for future villages in Portland. SRG and Catholic Charities then approached the Andersen Construction Foundation and CPID to help organize the Pod Build Challenge as a way to provide the new Kenton Women’s Village location with upgraded sleeping pods that will bring the village up to capacity and help it realize its full potential.

The Pod Build Challenge will mark the culmination of an 8-week build that has charged contractor teams with adding their custom touches to one of three proven and successful sleeping pod designs. Each team donated its materials and labor to the effort and the new pods will be judged April 5 in four categories: most creative modifications, best craftsmanship, most innovative material use, and best in show. As a result of this effort, there will be 21 sleeping pods in total donated to Catholic Charities, with the majority serving the Kenton Women’s Village and the remainder providing the foundation for the nonprofit’s next transitional village.

The Pod Build Challenge Celebration and Community Event will be held for the volunteer teams on April 5 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood at the corner of N. Argyle Way and N. Columbia Blvd. with the main event starting at 1 p.m.

Design Week Portland Open House Event
Design Week Portland will hold a free public Open House tour of the Kenton Women’s Village 2.0 and the 21 new sleeping pods that same weekend, April 7, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on site. More information can be found at designportland.org/festival/2019/.