Homelessness is a serious problem around the world. For her thesis project at the Kolding Design Institute, Danish designer Ragnhild Lubbert Terpling created the Urban Rough Sleeper. This expandable, multifunctional mobile backpack can provide shelter for homeless individuals living on the streets.
The Urban Rough Sleeper is a compact single-person tent that can be compressed into a portable bag. The backpack can expand into a fully retractable tent-like structure that can provide portable shelter or can be used at an encampment. It can also be used to store other items, such as toiletries, when an individual is traveling from place to place. Extra items, such as shoes and blankets, can be tied to the exterior of the bag.
Terpling studied both design and journalism. She was inspired to create the Urban Rough Sleeper after she attended a lecture where she saw images of homeless people and was impressed by their creative ways of finding shelter.
She designed the Urban Rough Sleeper based on first-hand knowledge of the experiences of homeless people. She spent weeks at a homeless shelter getting to know people and discussing their basic needs for storage, mobility, and shelter. She worked with her husband, who is a sailmaker, to find waterproof and sturdy materials that would be suitable for a rough environment.
Terpling proposed an unusual business model for her portable shelter. She decided to sell the tents as camping gear and to donate 10 percent of the proceeds to subsidize the cost of providing tents to people who cannot afford them.