Student architecture project challenges stereotypes of homelessness

Monday, 21 May 2018

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Students at Oxford Brookes University have designed ideas for temporary accommodation for homeless people in Oxford as part of a second-year Interior Architecture project.

The students have been working in collaboration with Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, on the project which is part of the course’s annual Live Projects initiative. The initiative involves working on design briefs with a local, social interest based on a theme. The theme for this year’s project is homelessness.

Orit Sarfatti, Lecturer in Architecture at Oxford Brookes University said: “Every year our Live Projects involve local communities in Oxford. The projects allow students and people living in the local community to understand the difference architecture can have on people’s quality of life.

Every year our Live Projects involve local communities in Oxford. The projects allow students and people living in the local community to understand the difference architecture can have on people’s quality of life.

Orit Sarfatti, Lecturer in Architecture, Oxford Brookes University

“This year, each student focused on a person’s profile from the Crisis website and through a series of design exercises, developed a brief which aims to suit that individual.

“One of the main reasons for this approach was to challenge prevailing stereotypes on homelessness and to address specific issues homeless people may be facing.”

Throughout their research process, the students met with the Thames Valley Police Homelessness Liaison Officer as well as visiting Crisis’ Skylight Centre in Oxford and meeting with members of the team to better understand the current conditions, reasons and statistics regarding homelessness, both nationally and specifically in Oxford.

The students have designed individual pods, based on an existing model for affordable housing called the Z-pod, as a temporary home for homeless people who are supported by Crisis Skylight Oxford and other local services in Oxford city centre.

Student Chi leng Pun said: “Before doing this project I didn’t know much about homelessness at all but throughout the design process I learnt that homelessness can be both physical and psychological. I developed closer feelings to the homeless people and understood their struggles and needs better. In my design, I reflect what features can help them over their situations."

Interior-Architecture-student-work-800x450The students design ideas will be exhibited at Crisis Skylight Oxford, The Old Fire Station, Oxford on Monday 21 May, 5.00pm – 6.30pm.

Kate Cocker, Director of Crisis Skylight Oxford said: “The lack of affordable housing is becoming an increasing issue in Oxford. Whilst the work of our organisation is always to try and find a permanent answer to end someone’s homelessness, we know that temporary solutions can often help people reach longer term stability. It has been great to see the innovation and creativity that has gone into this work by the students at Brookes University."

All students in the School of Architecture are given the opportunity to design and make work for a real client as part of the Live Projects initiative.

More information about Live Projects at Oxford Brookes University can be found at www.brookes.ac.uk/architecture/live-projects.

Information about studying architecture courses at Oxford Brookes University can be found on the Oxford Brookes University School of Architecture webpages