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Morris + Company wins contest to house capital’s ‘hidden homeless’

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Morris + Company has won the New Horizon Youth Centre’s ideas contest for innovative housing solutions aimed at the large numbers of ‘hidden homeless’ in London

The studio – formerly Duggan Morris – was named overall winner of the £3,500 prize for its ‘Stepping Stones’ co-living and co-working concept where homeless youngsters are treated with equal dignity as part of a self-sustaining mixed community with employment opportunities. 

A second prize of £1,000 was awarded to RCKa and a third prize of £500 to Catja de Haas Architect with Office Ten Architecture, while Adam Khan Architects, which completed a new headquarters for the youth centre eight years ago, received a special mention at an event sponsored by Gardiner & Theobald.

The competition sought conceptual proposals to transform the surface buildings at the disused York Road underground station into a 560m² accommodation block for up to 28 young people who do not have a safe or stable place to live.

The Hidden Homeless project set out to identify ‘durable, functional and serviceable’ concepts that could be delivered across several sites in the capital and help the estimated 300,000 Londoners living in such conditions. It was supported by London mayor Sadiq Khan, Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow, and John McAslan + Partners (JMP).

Morris + Company’s winning scheme proposed transforming the complex into a new community for both homeless young people and young professionals looking for private accommodation in the capital. The schemes features publicly accessible co-working spaces and a charity shop at ground level to cover the costs of the facility. 

Snow, who chaired the judging panel and is a patron of New Horizon Youth Centre, said: ‘The winning proposal by Joe Morris and his team offers a flexible combination of accommodation with a 24-hour active ground-floor area, providing both a sense of community and the necessary commercial revenue. Working with imaginative architects and major players across the property industry, we can make youth homelessness a thing of the past.’

JMP executive chairman John McAslan added: ‘Young people are the hidden face of homelessness, often sofa-surfing or sleeping on buses, in transient housing or shelters. The winning mixed-use scheme … by one of the UK’s most impressive architects demonstrates an imaginative and pragmatic approach to this challenging project.’

London’s deputy mayor for housing, James Murray, said: ‘Young Londoners are suffering some of the worst effects of London’s housing crisis, with many ending up sofa surfing or in some cases with no choice other than to sleep rough.

‘The competition entries propose some innovative, creative and sustainable approaches, helping ensure young people have a safe place to stay while they find longer-term solutions. I very much hope these entries will help lead to new projects that provide much-needed shelter and support for young Londoners.’

The competition followed the publication of new Shelter statistics highlighting that while 4,500 people sleep rough on the capital’s streets, an additional 300,000 young people are trapped in a ‘hidden homeless’ situation without stable or safe accommodation.

The contest, organised by Colander Associates, comes eight years after Adam Khan Architects completed a competition-winning new headquarters for the New Horizon Youth Centre in King’s Cross.

Designs had to house up 28 people, include shared spaces and external open areas, and be fully integrated with private housing or another use to fund the scheme.

Also on the judging panel were journalist Poppy Noor, Pocket Living chief executive Mark Vlessing, Robert Woodman from DP9, Helen Evans of Network Homes, and former New Horizon Youth Centre boss Shelagh O’Connor.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Congratulation to the winners. The AJ! there were 47 entries and 14 shortlisted schemes. Could you please list them?

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