An architect who devised a database to match homeless people with addresses of the UK’s empty properties has become the first recipient of a new grant for ’entrepreneurial’ projects
The £5,000 Museum of Architecture (MoA) fund, launching this spring, will go to Chris Hildrey director of Hildrey Studio and founder of Proxy Address database.
The grant aims to support ‘entrepreneurial’ projects that go beyond traditional architecture practice to engage with the wider public.
Proxy Address, which won the 2018 RIBA President’s Medal for Research, matches up homeless people with a ‘virtual copy’ of an address, taken from one of the UK’s 500,000 empty homes.
The database provides rough sleepers with a means of accessing necessities that can provide a key role in recovery: benefits, a bank account, seeing a GP, even getting a driving licence or library card.
The system is currently only available in London but will be rolled out nationally after the conclusion of the live trial.
MoA founder and director Melissa Woolford said: ‘As an architectural charity we were set up to find new ways of engaging the public with architecture and supporting architects to be more entrepreneurial and this fund enables us to do just that.
’Proxy Address is a powerful first recipient of the fund and showcases an architect moving beyond traditional practice to work on a wider problem. It is innovative and transformative, as well as having the potential to improve lives.’
Hildrey said: ‘This funding is testament to the work being done by MoA to enable a more entrepreneurial approach to improving our cities.
’The money will be a huge boost to Proxy Address and will help to both expand its reach and broaden its impact for those who find themselves marginalised and vulnerable in our built environment today.’
The MoA is also behind the festive Gingerbread City installation, a metropolis made of dough and sweets, which aims to spark ‘important conversations around cities and how we live in them’.
The Gingerbread City is on display at Somerset House, London, until 5 January 2020.