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. A man wearing a suit and tie holds an American flag at a naturalization ceremony.
    Life

    The New Geography of American Immigration

    The foreign-born population has declined in U.S. states that voted Democratic in 2016, and increased in states and metros that voted for Trump.

  2. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  3. a photo of a semi-autonomous dockless scooter
    Transportation

    One Way to Keep the Sidewalk Clear: Remote-Controlled Scooter-Bots

    A new mobility technology company called Tortoise promises to bring semi-autonomous scooters and e-bikes to market. Why?

  4. A woman stands in front of a house.
    Life

    How Housing Wealth Transferred From Families to Corporations

    The Great Housing Reset has led to growing numbers of single-family homes shifting from owner-occupied housing to investment vehicles for large corporations.

  5. Transportation

    A Micromobility Experiment in Pittsburgh Aims to Get People Out of Their Cars

    The Pittsburgh Micromobility Collective will create all-in-one mobility hubs near transit stops, to compete with Uber and Lyft and help commuters go car-free.

×