Ex-warehouse now stores hope for the homeless

Words:
Isabelle Priest

OMI’s Mustard Tree helps build skills and self confidence from a high quality space in a former industrial unit

Transforming a leaky gift to the charity OMI Architects has designed a new home for Mustard Tree. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects
Transforming a leaky gift to the charity OMI Architects has designed a new home for Mustard Tree. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects Credit: Paul Karalius

Mustard Tree is dedicated to helping people in Greater Manchester in poverty or homelessness by enabling them to gain skills and self-confidence. On a tight budget of roughly £625/m2, OMI Architects has opened up a rundown utilitarian 1950s warehouse building that was gifted to the charity to bring in natural light and create a modern, comfortable environment to visit and work, with this year’s judges agreeing that the result aptly expresses the building’s use and programmes.

  • Art class. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects
    Art class. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects Credit: Paul Karalius
  • Furniture donations. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects
    Furniture donations. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects Credit: Paul Karalius
  • Inside at the café and food bank. The building has dramatically increased the charities ability to help out locals. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects
    Inside at the café and food bank. The building has dramatically increased the charities ability to help out locals. MacEwen Award 2019 shortlisted Mustard Tree, Ancoats, Manchester by OMI Architects Credit: Paul Karalius
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By its very nature, the project required considerable engagement in the design process with a range of user groups and the ­local community. The refurbished building is a bright and comfortable environment. A newly created double height foyer is accessed from a large, welcoming entrance, giving access to the shop, café and meeting rooms on the ground floor, and exhibition and performance space, breakout space, training rooms and a commercial scale kitchen above. This has the effect of offering an often-neglected group a high-quality space that can build confidence.

Since completion the building has significantly enlarged the range and scale of its services. Distribution of emergency food parcels has increased by 138%, people fed in the canteen has risen by 13%, people to whom furniture has been donated has gone up by 235%, and people attending classes or activities has increased by 43%.

See more from the MacEwen Award