Many Homeless people currently live without documents, such as an Identity card or a passport. Without documents it is impossible to exercise basic rights, such as the right to vote, be hospitalized, have a job or take a pension.

The denial of these rights leads to a “domino effect” that makes the reintegration into society extremely difficult, often resulting in cases of increased criminality and exploitation.

In order to have back his personal documents a homeless needs a Residence Registry. To be subscribed to the residence registry the law applied in European countries, asks to citizens to provide a proof that they live in a specific territory. Normally, everybody can use a legal proof, such as a house or work contract, but for a homeless it is usually very difficult to find it.

Fictitious Address involved the delicate and complex theme of Homelessness and features a Product Service System that guide homeless to get back their rights. Being the project entirely Co-Designed with homeless, lawyers, social workers and several social enterprises, the system helps homeless people to get back crucial documents they have lost.

Fictitious Address is designed to help Homeless to get beck their documents and rights, thought the conception of a new system to apply to the cities.

Homeless would be able to find “Fictitious Address maps” for free at train or bus stations, dormitories, soup kitchens and in all of the places where they are use to receive help. The map would help homeless to understand their rights and receive all the information about the project and the new registration system. Homeless are also guided through the streets with the help of some luminous traces, specifically designed to be apply on the top of street signals and building walls.


Alessia Cadamuro - credits.

Aid organizations and their workers or volounteers that are willing to participate to this project are the witneses of the presence of homeless people in a specific territory. With the support of aid orgenization is possible for those in need to stipulate a residency registration that testifiy the real presence in a specific territory of a person for at least six months. Furthermore from this registration people can start to receive letters and storing important personal items inside private mailboxes.

The system helps homeless people to get back crucial documents they have lost, such as an ID card, to get a physical address and to get registered for social services.


In order to understand the problems and priorities of homelessness it was important first to design the right conditions for the creation of a group of homeless people to work with on the project. Only after that, it became possible to enter the group as a designer. This step always requires much attention, respect and gentleness. Once the group existed, we shaped our co-design experience together through different sharing activities and using reserach tools and probes such as diaries, anonymous mail boxes. Empathy was one of the most important elements that we tried to stimulate with these activities.

Over time the co-design group became a small community that eventually took over the whole Fictitious Address service. At this moment I, the designer, could step out of the group again.

The method that was applied focused on respecting the human relations that developed during the joint activities. More precisely, it strengthened the  confidence of the group and made them see that they eventually did not need the assistance of a designer anymore to continue to meet, and to keep using the service they helped to co-design. By then, they had experienced and were confident they could generate solutions to their problems themselves. The creation of a small independent community is crucial in achieving this stage.


intangible architecture & shelter for rights

alessia cadamuro

process - background

behind the project

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