Mira was a mobile shower unit designed for CHiPS, a nonprofit soup kitchen and women’s shelter in Park Slope, Brooklyn. In 2016, the trailer was the first of its kind in New York City. It would be parked outside the shelter during soup kitchen hours year round hot showers for the homeless population. Each retrofitted unit would cost $59,560, to apportion 2 shower stalls with ample dressing space. Design of the interior allowed the unit to be easily cleanable and maintainable; the walls and furniture would be constructed out of vividly colored stainless steel, and the floor of the shower out of naturally anti-bacterial teak wood. During service hours, volunteers working for the shelter would distribute clean socks, toiletries, and towels donated by local businesses including hotels. The trailer would be locked up overnight in a nearby church after hours. 

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Jerry Q, Jean P


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Mira started out as a group project for students in Professor Jeanne Pfordresher's Design for Human Kind course at Pratt Institute. Though the course was capped at 20 students, only 5 signed up. Over the duration of a semester or 4 months, students would volunteer at CHiPS (Community Help in Park Slope, Inc.) while gathering information to develop a mobile shower unit. After the first couple of weeks, many students found other needs within the shelter that could be improved with better design. Mira became a solo project.

While volunteering in the soup kitchen, there were chances to speak to the population when they came in to eat. Interviews with these people were important because while the client was CHiPS, they were the users. Initially, the sole purpose of the shower unit was the shower. But after these interviews, it became apparent that a change room in need.




At the end of the semester, Mira was presented to Denise Scaravella and other attendees in a public panel at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

The panel was hosted in conjunction with the exhibition By the People: Designing a Better America, with Cooper Hewitt and Pratt Institute, with additional support from CaringKind. 


A year after the project began, Mira started taking on public attention.

© 2020 Jerry Qu, All Rights Reserved