School of Art and Design Students Volunteer to Help Homeless

 Hi Hat Shelter
Hi Hat Shelter with QR Codes

Students design and paint Hi Hat shelter on KSU’s Marietta campus

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 10, 2019) — In preparation for Homelessness Awareness Week (HAW) November 2-9, 2019, students and faculty of Kennesaw State University (KSU) came together to make a Hi Hat shelter for the homeless, dubbed ATL Housing ATL, or The Sheltered Project. The design and build brought together students and faculty from the College of Architecture, the College of the Arts’ School of Art and Design (SOAAD), and the Department of English, as well as volunteers from across campus.


Working together to build the hut, students and faculty used the Hi Hat hut design from The Mad Housers, an Atlanta-based non-profit helping to fight homelessness and advocate for those affected. SOAAD students and faculty designed and painted the exterior of the hut, using a camouflage design made of QR codes. “The concept of a QR code to provide information and also to serve as a decorative element was inspired through dialogue with the artistic team,” says Professor of Art Valerie Dibble, who worked with SOAAD students on the project.

The QR code links users to the KSU CARE Services site, the university’s program to help students facing homelessness and food insecurity as well as helping those navigating the foster care system. “[The QR code] is obviously symbolic without being symbolically obvious,” says Professor Dibble. “The concept of camouflage seemed perfect visually and also conceptually. Sometimes the homeless want to be invisible for their safety - so their temporary housing of a box or lean-to will not be stolen, confiscated or thrown away…We felt that the QR code camouflage would be not only be visually appealing but would also inspire dialogue, inquiry and conversation from the viewers. We wanted the art on the exterior of the structure to inspire the public to start thinking about the causes and cures of homelessness. We hope that the imagery will challenge the viewer and inspire them to further inquiry and action.”

“As a group of artists who are active in the community,” says Professor Dibble, “we were very pleased to be asked to participate in the Sheltered Project. The Print Club at Kennesaw State has part of their mission dedicated to research-based service-learning projects. We have worked on the topic of homelessness awareness many times over the years and it is a subject close to our hearts as several of our members have been homeless and many more have been food insecure. We found this project interesting not just because of the topic but also because of the proactive nature of the final product – an actual dwelling for someone in need of shelter.”

The Sheltered Project is being used as inspiration for KSU’s Mad Houser Hi Hat Competition, which is a competition open to all students across campus. The competition, created by KSU CARE Services, the Department of Student Leadership and Service, and the KSU Architecture Department, serves as an opportunity for instructors to incorporate service-based learning projects into the curriculum and as an opportunity for students to gain hands on, practical experience in design team management, communication, and team development skills. The competition culminates in a panel jury and exhibition of the project designs from November 5-16, 2019, in conjunction with HAW (November 2-9, 2019).

The Sheltered Project’s completed hut can be found on the Marietta campus by the Architecture N building and will be on display through HAW. The project was led by Chair of Architecture Tony Rizutto, along with Professor of Art Valerie Dibble, English lecturer Erin Sledd, Professor of Architecture Ed Atkins, and the Manager of the Fabrications Labs, Dave Peeples. Participating students from the College of the Arts include Macie Poole, Maddi Smith, Daniel Barnard, Julee Davis, as well as German foreign exchange student Caroline Bro.