Image credit: City of Vancouver

Temporary modular housing is a promising rapid and cost-effective response to homelessness. Since 2017, over 1,300 units have been built across British Columbia. Temporary modular housing provides a safe, clean, new, and dignified space for people to live in. But what role do these buildings actually play in promoting wellbeing?

Happy City and Reos Partners come together to produce this CMHC-funded social lab, which takes a resident-centred approach to understanding how the design and programming of existing temporary modular housing (TMH) projects across the Lower Mainland can impact wellbeing. 

Our team is convening modular supportive housing residents, managers, operators, designers, policy makers and construction experts to create a community of practice around modular housing design and management. The multi-phase engagement process will prioritize the experiences of modular housing residents who have experienced homelessness and housing operators. We will work collaboratively with them to identify challenges and explore and co-create design or programming actions to improve their wellbeing.

Project Goals

1: Create a user-centered representation of the current state of temporary modular supportive housing, its successes and challenges across BC.
2: Understand the priorities and challenges that Indigenous residents experience on their journeys out of homelessness.
3: Translate wellbeing learnings from residents, housing operators, housing managers, policy makers and design experts into actionable design, programming and policy recommendations.

Project Phases

Phase 1: Definition – Establish scope and reframe issue. Through the identification of key issues and gaps, we narrowed our scope to focus on modular supportive housing solutions that TMH residents.

Phase 2: Discovery – Generate systemic insights through data, dialogue interviews and desk research. We have interviewed key stakeholders and have analyzed findings from these interviews.

Phase 3: Development – Take a deep dive into needs, priorities and ideas. We will facilitate conversations, collaborate on activities with residents, and shadow staff to get a clearer picture.

Phase 4: Prototyping and Testing – Test and refine resident and stakeholder-led ideas and proposals that boost wellbeing. We will find creative ways to prototype, and implement promising ideas, iterating with residents and stakeholders to identify scalable solutions. 

Phase 5: Roadmapping – Develop a roadmap for municipalities, designers and operators to develop resident-centred approaches to designing and implementing temporary modular housing.

The PDFs below summarize our findings from Phase 1 and 2 of the project.


The PDFs below summarize the results from our first co-creative workshop with stakeholders in March 2021.


The PDF below summarizes the results from our second co-creative workshop with stakeholders in April 2021.


The PDF below summarizes the results from our third co-creative workshop with stakeholders in May 2021.


The PDF below summarizes the results from our fourth co-creative workshop with stakeholders in June 2021.