Reuters

The ad-hoc built environment that is Slab City, a neighborhood for and by the homeless.

Squatter architecture has been somewhat glamorized lately, with the Occupy movement spawning a series of highly publicized DIY settlements and the increased adoration of pop-up pavilions as emblems of an alternative built environment. But for the squatters at Slab City, mobile architecture is not a statement of revolution but a way of life. Taking its name from the concrete slabs left over from what was once a Marine base, Slab City has become a permanent Hooverville in Southern California, a haven for the homeless, a site for general off-the-grid living, and a place steeped in myth.

Here, refugees of the recession and assailers of the system find food, shelter and company, along with the occasional acrylic paint art installation, living modestly in unforgiving climates with the assistance of government checks, electricity generators, and a scant stash of goods from the nearest town three miles away. Photographer Eric Thayer recently made a trip to Slab City, and his photos reveal a city of authentically ad hoc architectures assembled into a provocative portrait of fringe living.






Photo credit: Eric Thayer/Reuters. This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    What's Inside a Neighborhood in a Box?

    On the outskirts of New York City, a new housing model aimed at Millennials asks: What is city living?

  2. Environment

    Let's All Swim in the Once-Filthy Canals of Paris

    Unlike many cities, the French capital has made good on its promise to re-open urban waterways to bathers. How did they do it?  

  3. Transportation

    5 Reasons to Be Wary of Elon Musk's Hyperloop

    High-speed vactrains might be the ticket for a Martian colony. As a practical transit investment for Earth, the technology has a long way to go.

  4. Environment

    Iceland Is Sick of Tourists' Bad Behavior

    Visitors are underestimating the country’s dangers—and taking locals for granted.

  5. Cafe patrons sitting at outdoor tables beneath an awning
    Life

    In Berlin, This Coffee Shop Is a Microcosm of the Changing City

    The iconic Café Kranzler got a makeover. Now, the coffeehouse illustrates the schism in a city caught somewhere amid historic and hip.