Commonweal Housing are running  an open design ideas competition seeking new ideas and proposals for a form of transitional short-term accommodation.

The purpose of this competition is to find a viable and deliverable model for demountable, reusable, short term accommodation options that can be deployed within existing buildings.   We believe there is a real need for a safe, hygienic, sanitary and affordable alternative to the streets or tents.

Full details of the Competition Brief can be downloaded here. In response to your questions we have also published a Q&A sheet to further support those looking to enter the competition. Details of this can be viewed here.

Deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday 23rd June 2017

Questions on the brief may be submitted for a limited period. Questions should be submitted by e-mail to: info@commonweal.org.uk, no later than close of business on 6th June 2017. The e-mail subject should include reference to the “Starter for 10 Competition”. Responses will be collated and made available to all designers on the Commonweal website from the 9th June. 

Background:

When it comes to looking at tent encampments, rough sleeping and EU economic migrants Commonweal were well aware that such issues might be considered toxic by some, politically dangerous and open to front page newspaper outrage… but if independent charities like Commonweal can’t or don’t ask questions and encourage new ideas then who will? The status quo is not really working for anyone.

We are aware that this topic raises all sorts of other questions about the informal economy and British society’s rather fluid attitude towards cash in hand working, especially in the construction industry amongst many others, but do we just stick our fingers in our ears and refuse to talk about it? Or, do we challenge the powers that be to consider such issues and in the meantime get on with seeking to address the immediate needs and the injustices of tent dwellers, rough sleepers and the communities of north and east London who have to put up with the consequences of us not being brave enough to ask let alone answer difficult questions.

Commonweal’s next step is this design competition where we are picking the brains of the design and architecture community to think about what an alternative short-term accommodation solution might look like – utilising empty meanwhile use space – office buildings, light industrial units or even something that churches and faith groups might consider in their church halls and similar spaces.

We genuinely don’t know what the answer is and need creative ideas. We are not looking to create a permanent housing solution – that is a wider issue that absolutely needs to be addressed. Instead the purpose of this competition is to find a viable and deliverable model for demountable, reusable, short-term accommodation options that can be deployed within existing buildings. We believe there is a real need for a safe, hygienic, sanitary and affordable alternative to the streets or tents. We hope to identify something that can allow individuals a leg-up into the system, a stepping stone to working with partners to deliver a longer term solution. The prize for Commonweal is that IF such a solution can be found the potential runs far beyond this one specific client group of east European migrant workers.

An executive summary of the initial research report can be accessed here whilst the full report is available here.

To accompany the publication of the research Thames Reach also wrote a detailed article outlining the key findings and recommendations of their research. The article, which can be read here, included insight from Ashley Horsley, Commonweal Housing Chief Executive, alongside Thames Research Chief Executive Jeremy Swain.

For more information please contact us at info@commonweal.org.uk