Holmes Road Studios is a beautiful new homeless facility providing high quality residential accommodation together with training and counselling facilities all laid out around a delightful new courtyard garden. Residents of homeless hostels are among the most vulnerable in society. A significant proportion of them have a history of drugs and alcohol abuse. There is a high incidence of mental illness and the majority are workless. Many of them need a great deal of support with resolving health problems, securing a long term solution to their housing needs, learning basic life skills and where possible entering into training/ being given introductions leading to work. All residents are in need of a secure, comfortable, warm and dry place to call home.

The project provides accommodation for 59 people alongside counselling spaces, education and training facilities, and social enterprise space. Most of the accommodation is arranged in little studio houses forming terraces fronting the garden, in an alms house typology. These micro houses have a double height brick vault with an ensuite bathroom at the back of the plan, and a mezzanine bed space raised above the bathrooms. The rooms are lit via a partially glazed door, pretty looking circular windows and a roof light. The buildings are constructed in a rustic looking brick with a crinkle crankle parapet which gives the project a relaxed domestic scale. All of the rooms look out over the garden.

It is hoped there will be a group of residents working with a gardener to create and maintain an intensely planted and beautiful garden. There would be an apple tree or two, potatoes, green veg, soft fruit, herbs, a greenhouse, a potting shed and a sunny spot to sit and rest.

The garden creates a homely, domestic atmosphere in the hostel. It will provide people with an opportunity to develop gardening skills and encourage them to think about nutrition. It will give participating residents an interest and outlet for their energy. It will help to foster a sense of belonging, self-worth and empowerment amongst residents. It will provide people with an opportunity to develop gardening skills and encourage them to learn about nutrition.

Source: Holmes Road Studios — Peter Barber Architects