Housing for the poor is an issue of increasing concern globally. Urban populations are swelling to record numbers as rural residents continue to migrate towards cities in the hope of better opportunities. But many urban centers don’t have enough housing to meet that demand, and with costs skyrocketing, affordable options are increasingly rare.
For some, like the poor of Hong Kong, that means living in apartments so paltry, they measure a miniscule 40 square feet. But for many others, it means taking up residence in an outlying shanty village where homes are built out of scavenged materials.
Thailand is home to some of these shanty communities, and one of the building materials that’s often pulled from garbage bins is the country’s multitude of old advertising boards. But a smart new campaign hopes to change the design of those boards so they do a better job of providing shelter and comfort to those who need it.
“The Other Side” is a project conceived by advertising agency BBDO Bangkok, and done in conjunction with its client, HomePro, a home goods company similar to HomeDepot.
The project modifies HomePro's advertising boards so that the front side displays the normal advertisement, but the back side is modified with the addition of wallpaper, hooks, pop-up shelves and other accessories that residents might find useful. Once the advertising side has served its purpose, those in need of shelter fortification are free to take the boards and add them to their houses, or construct an entirely new dwelling out of them.
Approximately one billion people worldwide currently live in slums, and that number is expected to triple by 2050. In response, many regions are trying to find creative ways to address the problem, like the high-tech, sustainable iShacks currently under testing in sub-Saharan Africa.
BBDO’s project won’t prevent the poverty that necessitates Thailand’s slum dwellings, but it does provide its inhabitants with a means to further insulate themselves from the elements. More importantly, the endeavor treats the area’s impoverished with a thoughtful hand, assuming their comfort is as important as their safety.
In what other ways would you like to see big businesses contributing to socially relevant causes? Let us know in the Comments.
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A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and medical writer. In addition to reporting the weekend news on TakePart, she volunteers as a webeditor for locally-based nonprofits and works as a freelance feature writer for TimeOutLA.com. Email Andri | @andritweets | TakePart.com