We are proud to have been shortlisted in the architectural ideas competition ‘Hidden Homeless’, which was headed by the New Horizon Youth Centre (NHYC) and supported by the Mayor of London. The competition challenged Architects to propose radical ideas for innovative housing for young homeless people.
The brief called for financially viable proposals to redevelop the redundant York Road Tube Station to provide short and medium term accommodation for 28 homeless 16-21 year olds, alongside a complimentary use that would provide a revenue stream in support of the homeless accommodation.
Despite being a London based competition, we felt the issues raised were extremely relevant to Bristol, where the number of homeless people is on the rise – by a staggering 128% over the past three years, according to statistics from Homeless Link.
Our proposal plans to widen the lens on homelessness by actively encouraging the public to communicate and engage more effectively with the subject in an everyday setting. Our design combines homeless accommodation with co-working space, a workshop, canteen and a nursery; spaces in which interactions with new and interesting people occur on a daily basis. Together the uses foster a combined culture of hard work, skills sharing and innovation within the building.
Our design proposes a new model of urbanism, in which the standard mixed-use building (typically public/commercial use at ground floor and private residential accommodation above) is interrogated and redefined to provide a genuine variety of uses on every floor, encouraging visitors and inhabitants alike to explore the whole building.
The importance of being able to ‘go for a walk and get some space’ became apparent in our research discussions with Caring in Bristol, YMCA and 1625 Independent People. This lead to the design of generous circulation spaces, high ceilings and a large central courtyard, which acts as a focal point and fosters social interaction as people journey between spaces.
Integrated seating throughout the building provides places for incidental meetings, and opening up the rear of the site encourages movement from outside of the ‘red line’ and through the central courtyard, forging physical connections with the wider community. The shelter accommodation is non-institutional, with homely spaces where residents can build a sense of self worth and responsibility.
Next Stop brings the general public into contact with the work of the NHYC on a daily basis, challenging them to rethink their preconceptions of homelessness, and strengthening demand for policies and change to address it. With a more informed and engaged society, there is the opportunity for prevention to be part of the discussion.
As designers we are able to respond to everyday social issues within our cities and make a positive contribution to create better places for all. We plan to put our research to good use, and make some (or all) aspects of the competition project a reality…Stay tuned!