Thinking Inside the Booth

By | May 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm | 3 comments

Two innovative designers, Nathan Lee and Trevor Coghill of Contexture Design, have taken a phone booth that was on its way to the landfill and transformed it into an adaptable dwelling with a statement about homelessness.

With the increase of homelessness in recent years, there is more demand than ever for connectivity between two worlds that, while they are often only steps away, feel miles apart. Growing numbers of people are finding their home on the streets. Many of which were inadvertently forced to give up their life in modern society for one of less status, comfort and luxury, due to the recent economic downturn. One of these luxuries is the use of a telephone, or more specifically– cell phone. Ironically, the very thing that was replaced by the popularity and convenience of cell phones is what Lee and Coghill have reinvented with their creation of the Home Phone. The Home Phone is proof that the phone booth can make a come back, with a more communal purpose.  The two designers have designed it so that it can serve the needs of humanity and the greater good through a different kind of connection.

Currently, it is not being used, however, Contexture Design points out that, if needed, it could be a place for sleeping, washing, reading, storing belongings, and of course– making phone calls.  Multiple Home Phone booths could be sprinkled throughout towns, so that there is enough space between them for privacy, or they could be lumped together providing a sense of community and accessibility. Community booths would be the best solution. Due to their size, there is only so much one booth can provide. If placed closely together, some booths could be hooked up to the cities’ pluming system and serve as kitchenettes, washrooms, and lavatories; while others could provide a comfortable sleeping area or lounge. The possibilities are endless, especially with minds like Lee and Coghill involved.

Though the ideas for the Home Phone have not been implemented, at least there is creativity percolating around solutions for the homeless that utilize sustainable design methods. This is one idea that could both serve the needs of the homeless and provided an environmentally-smart solution to a forgotten amenity. Its very creation is a symbol of how social change can be visualized artistically, inspiring others to create and embrace forward-thinking, unconventional ideas in the future.

For now, the Home Phone can be viewed by appointment at Contexture’s downtown Eastside studio in Vancouver.


  1. JR@TheDriftersBlog (7 years ago)

    this was a very unique and thought provoking post. i’m glad to see that talented and artistic minds are coming together to create such a potentially useful piece of art. the homelessness subculture has always been looked down up, often times with disgust, and we tend to forget that just because have no place to call home, doesn’t make you worthless. i remember watching a documentary where they interviewed a mother living in a tent city with her children who told her story of how they got there after a series of bad events. she was not a druggie, or an alcoholic or promiscuous. she was trying her hardest and her best to care for the people that she loved, and things just weren’t going her way. these are not animals that need to be turned away, but humans with feelings, thoughts and emotions. it also taught me never to take your situation for granted, since it can all be taken away one day. thanks for this thought provoking and inspirational post! i hope more creative projects such as this come together and are implemented. JR@TheDriftersBlog

  2. Anna (7 years ago)

    Very artsy and interesting. I like it. The problem I see is the same problem I see over and over and over again with these type ideas…its great art and theory, but its never actually implemented to the masses. The homeless remain homeless and we have something cool to look at on the internet. You have to want to help the homeless and that takes money….and thats the problem in a nutshell…nobody wants to dish up the money. People are all about helping till you get in their wallet.

  3. Tuesday Phillips (7 years ago)

    Thanks, Austin!

    Anna, you have a very good point! I agree that thousands of plans are implemented each year, yet nothing tangible seems to happen with relation to homelessness. Even so, I do think that it is important for people in creative fields to continue to work with the greater good – whether it is for humanity, the environment or animals – in mind to keep awareness of global issues fresh. It is the new, innovative ideas that show us how our old methods are not working and allow us to see a possibility for change through the eyes of someone new…


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