Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jonathan Bell

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Katz

Third Advisor

Jehanzeb Shoaib


Massachusetts is the only state in the United States with a right-to-shelter law which guarantees shelter for families with children and pregnant women.1 As of February 2024, 3,500 homeless families with children are being sheltered in a motel or hotel with an average length of stay of 14 months, because traditional family shelters have reached capacity.2,3 While these families are provided temporary shelter, these shelters do not allow for the development of a true sense of “home.” While a motel meets the needs of rudimentary shelter, motels were never designed as long-term accommodations and certainly not with a child’s experience in mind. Through historical research on motels, analysis of design precedents and literature, field work, and design interventions, this thesis argues that children’s experiences within temporary shelter spaces needs to be considered and more empathetically designed for. To demonstrate this I designed Wiggle Room, an object that facilitates a child “making room” for themselves within the temporary space of a motel shelter. Importantly, this thesis shows how designers can work alongside social workers, nonprofits, and governments to center children within spaces that typically inhibit a child’s agency and sense of safety.

1. Samantha J. Gross and Mike Damiano, “‘right-to-Shelter’ Law Is Unique to Massachusetts. It Has a Long History. - The Boston Globe,”, August 9, 2023,

2. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter Resources and Data, (Massachusetts: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2024),

3. Gabrielle Emanuel. “As Need for Emergency Shelters in Mass. Spikes, So Do Costs.” WBUR, October 2, 2023.



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