Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Great places

January 02 2020
Temporary bedrooms: Private spaces at the 999 Club by Reed Watts © Reed Watts Temporary bedrooms: Private spaces at the 999 Club by Reed Watts © Reed Watts

Architecture for Humanity UK’s Arome Agamah & Alasdair Dixon discuss ways to adapt buildings for people who are homeless

We’re a small charity passionate about designing great places for people from all walks of life. Over the years we’ve worked with Crisis on their Christmas reception spaces, with Food for All on their kitchen in Hackney and on the Remakery in Brixton where we helped convert an underused space into a community hub.

We know that housing and homelessness is a complex issue that needs addressing with big moves and serious political will. As architects we are best placed to address more immediate concerns such as ensuring that a building is safe and secure for vulnerable people. While it is not the entire solution, provision of temporary housing is also a valid way of getting vulnerable people off the streets.

For this issue of the Pavement we wanted to share a few examples of architects helping charities address homelessness:

Peter Barber – Holmes Road Studios 2016: Peter Barber Architects have a history of working on innovative housing projects and recently finished Holmes Road Studios in Kentish town. These cottages were designed with Camden council and will be opening in 2019.

Architecture for Humanity UK (AFHUK): Crisis at Christmas Between 2006–2012 Architecture for Humanity UK worked with Crisis to decorate and create more welcoming spaces at their Christmas shelters. We did this with volunteers and reclaimed or donated materials.

Reed Watts – 999 Club Sleeping Pods 2018: Reed Watts architects completed indoor sleeping pods. at the 999 Club’s night shelter in Deptford. The structures give privacy and security as temporary bedrooms in the charity’s emergency shelter.

AFHUK – The Brixton Remakery 2013: Architecture for Humanity UK worked with Transition Town Brixton to convert 36 derelict garages into community maker spaces, where the use of recycled materials is central to the work. Now open at 51 Paulet Road in Brixton, the Remakery provides affordable, accessible workspace for those looking to develop skills in woodworking, ceramics or textiles.

Chris Hildrey – Proxy Address 2019: Although not a physical design, Chris Hildrey’s project Proxy Address uses technology to connect those facing homelessness with support. The project provides a stable address throughout periods of instability – so you get an address, even if you don’t yet have a house. What’s more that address looks like a normal residential address so you can use it to open a bank account, claim benefits or get a job. It started with a trial in Lewisham, and then all London. During 2020 it is hoped that it will become available nationwide.