Architects have drawn up plans to show how pubs, offices and other buildings left vacant in the wake of the coronavirus could be converted into accommodation for homeless people
Think-tank Architects Aware published detailed proposals for how existing structures could be adapted to help get people off the streets.
The design blueprints follow research into the people brought in from the streets during the Covid-19 pandemic. Charity Depaul identified three categories of homeless person who were not benefiting from existing support measures.
Architects Aware analysed the needs of these groups and came up with design suggestions tailored to each one.
It found that the entrenched homeless were likely to best-served by conversions of care homes, bed and breakfasts and hotels. Young homeless required study space and social support and could benefit from adjustments to terraced houses and student halls.
However, the working homeless – a group of people typically with low-paid, temporary jobs, often in the gig economy – prioritised location and affordability.
‘The transient nature of this cohort could align with meanwhile use and/or the high-quality refurbishment of vacant properties available as a result of the pandemic,’ said the Architects Aware report.
Components prefabricated off-site could be used to transform vacant offices, pubs and retail units to provide short-term accommodation for the working group, the report added. Designs drawn up by architects show how sleeping spaces, shared kitchens and support facilities could be created.
Design by Amos Goldreich for conversion of commercial property to accommodate homeless
The group believes developers could be incentivised to undertake such conversion projects through Section 106 agreements and purchase or rent payments from local authorities tasked with getting people off the streets.
Architects Aware founder Heather Macey, also an associate at John McAslan + Partners, told the AJ: ‘We hope these designs will be a template for developers to use to make homeless accommodation projects accessible.’
Architects Aware is also acting as an expert panel consulting with a three-strong panel drafting guidelines for creating new homeless facilities.
This work is being undertaken by Macey along with Miranda MacLaren and Polina Pencheva – both from Morris + Company – with funding from the RIBA, in the hope that the guidelines will be adopted by relevant local authorities.