This winter we set the hard challenge of coming up with designs to rehabilitate the homeless, after last year’s competition “Let it Snow” which looked mainly at providing essential shelter for people living on the streets. The brief called for a more holistic and thoughtful strategy, which would integrate well with the urban environment and have a more longterm approach than immediate survival and comfort.
Below is the winning design from Sarah Crowley in Melbourne, Australia (http://sararchitecture.blogspot.com). We really like the wide and multi faceted approach to rehabilitation which she has manifested in her design, through creating a strip of community buildings, housing, and facilities all the way along a strip of railway in her city. It’s architecturally a very strong solution, and although the capital cost would be high it has a wider outlook and attitude towards the entire city, stitching over a scar created in the urban landscape by the train line. The rehabilitation solution she presents is sustainable and even profitable with the inclusion of markets and ‘big issue’ offices, and although the graphic takes a while to read it is convincing and clear.
This project explores a long-term solution to housing and rehabilitating homeless individuals & families. Homeless people often congregate in cities because of the infrastructure & resources available. They tend to appropriate under-used & empty spaces for living. To link in with this concept, it seemed logical to design a long-term solution to homelessness using vacant plots of land in cities. There is a lot of neglected land in & around cities throughout the world, so… let’s use these sites to re-integrate the homeless!!
The site explored in this project is a 1km strip of currently neglected land abutting the city grid of Melbourne, Australia. A train line runs through the site, making it problematic for housing, so I designed a bridge that covers the train line, which effectively reduces the noise and vibration of the trains, but also helps to increase porosity and permeability of the site.
The project will create a new ‘neighbourhood’ with a mixed demographic: 30-40% residents will be ‘formerly homeless,’ the rest will not. The idea here is to further encourage integration with others and develop a sense of community.
The neighbourhood will have a series of public programs as well as being residential. These programs will activate the neighbourhood and provide activities & jobs for the homeless, enabling them to develop a sense of responsibility & self-worth within their new community. They will also provide a source of income to maintain and potentially help fund the development. The ‘development’ would be funded both publicly and privately.
There are innumerable vacant strips of land created by train and tram lines – obstacles that can be readily ‘bridged’ to form vibrant neighbourhoods that re-integrate the homeless. So take a look around your city… how many sites would be suitable for a project like this?