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MacEwen longlist: Mount Pleasant Homeless Hostel

Eleanor Young

A light, bright, and airy space for 52, designed with careful consideration to their individual needs

Peter Barber Architects for Camden Council

Location: Mount Pleasant, London

Mount Pleasant is a beautiful new sheltered housing project for homeless people set within a secluded and peaceful suntrap courtyard. Residents of homeless hostels are usually the more vulnerable in society. A significant proportion of them have a history of drugs and alcohol abuse. There is a high incident 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 is entered from a tiny lane through the arched doors of the Victorian hostel building. The entrance is a light, bright, and airy space which opens directly out onto a delightful roof terrace. The tree lined courtyard below is the principle circulation of the project, its main meeting space is in a sense the social heart of the place with little spots for people to sit. There is direct access to a laundry, shared kitchens, a consulting room and the apartments which surround it. It is a place which encourages social interaction. Unplanned encounters between staff and residents which are a vital means of engagement and care of residents.

The hostel provides en suite accommodation to 52 residents. There are little self-contained apartments for people who need a bit of space to themselves, accommodation in flats for those who are more gregarious, and there are larger accessible units for residents who struggle to get about.

Since the building has been completed not only has the street in front of Mount Pleasant become active and well overlooked we have also heard directly from residents about how much they enjoy the building; sitting out in the sun and setting up art classes in the courtyard.


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