Earlier this year, we wrote about a thoughtful initiative in the German city of Ulm that saw the installation of a series of pods around the town for unsheltered people to be able to sleep in. A similar project is now taking place in Ecuador, where architecture firm Natura Futura Arquitectura created The Ambulantito — a portable device that’s part shelter, part kiosk, designed to help homeless people who transition between cities.
Designed primarily for the Ecuadorian and Latin American context, the project provides an emergency refuge to those without a roof over their head while raising awareness about growing poverty rates. The structure is mounted on four wheels and features foldable elements that enable the user to convert it from a basic shelter into a vendor cart to sell food or other products.
The Ambulantito is devised to serve as a temporary solution, which means it can be shared, donated, moved, and loaned. In addition to providing shelter, the structure can serve as a vehicle to generate income, with unsheltered people also being able to use it as a kiosk in parks, local fairs, and on the street.
Measuring 2.5 × 0.85m, the mobile device has a structure made out of square metal rods and panels of locally sourced timber. It has two eaves, one fixed and the other foldable, which creates a stall-like frontage when opened.
To ensure that people’s belongings are safe, Natura Futura installed folding lattice doors on each side. The lower side supports can be folded up during the day, allowing easy mobility around the city. Unfolded at night, it provides enough space to rest.
“The Ambulantito is a first small step towards raising awareness of urgent needs such as shelter, productivity, and human safety, seeking to be an engine of consciousness that opens up new possibilities and reflections on our role of responsibility regarding the realities of the city,” says Natura Futura.