Exclusive interview with Crawford Partnership
We sat down with the Crawford Partnership and asked them to tell us about their award entry and why they think they should win!
Can you tell us about your work in London?
Much of Crawford Partnership's work in London has evolved around seeking innovative ways to address the predominant architectural and social issues of the day: the provision of adequate, affordable housing to reduce the increasing problem of homelessness. The provision of a home for everyone is the common goal that we need to be working together to resolve, and affordable housing for all should be considered a covenant between society and the people that it represents. This is not happening presently. Consequently, the need for temporary accommodation to provide shelter and security for those who are homeless has escalated in the past decade.
What makes the Seven Sisters project sustainable?
The new hostel on Seven Sisters Road is a vital part of Hackney Council's strategy to support homeless people in the borough. The 148 self-contained rooms provide 346 bed-spaces (104 double rooms, 38 triple rooms and 6 quad rooms geared towards families and wheelchair users), aiming to increase capacity and avoid housing the homeless outside the borough. Recent research estimated that there are 2,900 households in Hackney in temporary accommodation, a significant increase from the previous year, around 30% of whom are being housed outside the borough. While this is a temporary solution to homelessness, the project's social sustainability will reverse the outward flow of people and provide much-needed accommodation for an increasing number of vulnerable people and families.
The economic sustainability of the project reduces the pressure on the local authority, providing a purpose-built facility. This not only reduces the building's running costs, enabling the borough to run the facility directly, but Hackney is also able to provide space for on-site services and community outreach, creating a beacon for social wellbeing. The contemporary design is constructed with robust materials; stock facing-brick facades and a zinc roof externally with softer interiors providing rooms that are comfortable and dignified, with en-suite bathrooms, kitchenettes and communal amenities creating opportunities for social interaction.'
The project meets Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with the south-facing flat roof finished in a sedum carpet with a considerable solar photovoltaic array. High levels of insulation are incorporated throughout the fabric reducing the building's energy footprint while the design is sown into the architectural vernacular and social fabric of the borough.
The 148 homes are designed with access and safety key to the design, ensuring a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The materials are locally sourced where possible, and belie their purpose, with high-quality interior design including wood flooring to bedroom areas and porcelain tiled bathrooms, reflecting the investment that society has in all people to provide dignity, security and comfort throughout the occupation.
The hostel seeks to provide an exemplary example of the approach and tangible benefits of architecture contributing towards providing a more sustainable built-environment; socially, economically and environmentally. Hostels are not glamorous, but they provide essential housing to increasing numbers of people. The practice is proud to work on such sustainable projects, and this award can support works of this type, often overlooked due to their typology and the issues that they confront.
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