of things to do


family homeless shelter - interior design

a shelter that gives children hopes and dreams during their darkest times.

Only 25% of homeless children are reported to attend school. 22% of those are diagnosed with learning delays and over 80% with mental/emotional instability. 

Three Blocks Down is a family shelter dedicated to catering better experiences and helps them grow as part of a community. The shelter focuses on providing emotional, mental, and social stability to this population. It offers spaces to have bonding moments with their family and community.  The design is focused on helping stabilize their emotional and mental health while encouraging educational growth.

user key experience.jpg

special spots to do school homework efficiently without distractions

promoting mental, physical, and emotional health

fosters family bonds as well as the community growth

offer collaborative and learning experiences


The name is meant to help children feel empowered by their living situation. Children experiencing homelessness are too afraid or ashamed to say they are living at a shelter. Three Blocks Down can be interpreted as the children lives three blocks down from the school. It also becomes a code name for other sheltered children to recognize each other and sympathize.

* Neagari means “exposed roots”. It is a Japanese gardening technique that consists of removing the soil under the tree to expose their roots, making them stronger and more iconic. 

The three that sheltered me:

I ran through what looked like an empty meadow looking for shelter from the rain. When all seemed lost a lonely tree came to view on the far horizon.

From far, it seemed like the tree was alive, it seemed to dance with the melody of the wind and the rain. A branch swirling in front of him imitated a smile as if he enjoyed his dance with his friends.


Suddenly, the branch turned toward me, calling me to join in his dance. I ran toward his roots-looking legs which appeared to open a path just for me.


I settled down underneath, surrounded by its tall roots. I felt his ancient soul warming mine. Its strong root holding me up like a rocking bed. I slept until the storm passed away and the sun shined again.

user gif.gif





Old Cook County Hospital
1835 W. Harrison St.
Chicago, Illinois

the fairy tale underneath the exposed roots of a sheltering tree

floor plan 2.jpg

second level

floor plan 1.jpg

first level


final render


© 2021 Shirley Solano Larrauri