“WOAH (Without a Home) is a non-profit student design collective, predominantly focused on the issue of homelessness and all associated issues surrounding it, such as community, housing and poverty. We mainly consist of architecture students and have worked on both research and design projects alongside charities, ex-homeless artists and architectural firms. WOAH came into existence in 2015 in reaction to the removal of the homeless encampment underneath the Manchester way, opposite the hatch development.”
As fellow students at MSA, the WOAH collective are uniquely positioned in this project to advise us on the current landscape of homelessness in Manchester, and to provide a base of research and action that we can contribute to. Two of our primary contacts representing WOAH are 6th year students who were in the same role as this team last year, and we are confident we will benefit from their experience to bridge the gap between the issues at hand and the process of an MSA Live project. Initial discussions have established an understanding of the potential to continue the project into the future in the same way; making each year’s iteration a new contribution to a cumulative, long term effort to implement real change in how homelessness is discussed and tackled in the city of Manchester.
Cornerstone is a day centre in Manchester that provides services and accommodation to vulnerable adults. They welcome people from all backgrounds in the hope of increasing the quality of life of their clients. Bringing together vulnerable people helps to form a support system giving many adults a route back into society. Cornerstone is part of the Caritas Diocese of Salford charity that aims to free people from poverty and disadvantaged circumstances in Greater Manchester.
As a charity, Cornerstone are at the forefront of dealing with homelessness and it’s related difficulties. We look forward to learning from their real-world knowledge and approaches to the problems people face on a day-to-day basis. As with most charities though, they are vulnerable to being underfunded and overstretched; Our first discussions have highlighted a pressing need for the improvement of the Cornerstone day centre on Denmark Road, which will likely form part of our design workshops in May. Additionally, we will look into the ways in which Cornerstone and Caritas interacts with other bodies such as local government, the general public and other charities to glean information on how these relationships inform and affect the whole.
Posted 2 Mar 2021 15:22
The issue this project aims to engage with is a significant one, and at times it may seem overwhelming; numbers are hard to gauge accurately but it is estimated that 1 in every 102 people in Manchester are classed as homeless. It is clear to imagine the extent of the problem simply by walking through the city centre, and the number has been steadily rising over recent years. But the scale of the question should not dissuade us from searching for an answer.
As a team and as collaborators in this project we believe it is our social responsibility to acknowledge the issues and contribute, in whatever small way, to the improvement of the social fabric of this city and of individual lives. We are forced as citizens to step in where local and national government has failed. This is something that affects everyone, not just those without a home; we must question the society we are part of and the systems that shape it. Is this the best we can do? Am I happy to ignore those at the bottom of the ladder? Could this be me one day?
Our approach will be on two levels- micro and macro, we must inspect the issues at differing scales to effectively interrogate the problem to yield potentially real results. What are the current systems in place and where do they fail? But also- What is it on a personal level that a rough sleeper feels is most important to them?
Posted 2 Mar 2021 15:24
Skills & Techniques
The team will engage with a range of varied physical and non-physical analysis and representation techniques. Mapping, data and site analysis skills will be implemented to build up baseline knowledge as a group, before a series of design exercises that will develop conceptualisation and representation through hand drawing, diagramming, model making and software such as Sketchup. As the designs progress they will then be augmented with further programs such as Autocad and rendering plugins, and prepared for presentation through Photoshop and InDesign.
Students will be encouraged to apply the skills that they consider to be their strengths to the project in the context of a large collaborative team as well as embracing and developing areas of their skillset they are not as comfortable with. As this is a cross-course as well as cross-year project, we are looking forward to a diverse range of approaches and perspectives that will produce creative solutions.
In addition to practical skills, we also want to discuss and debate the subject. The continuing existence of homelessness in this country proves there is no simple fix, and that it cannot be addressed through architecture alone; so we are interested in thinking outside the box, venturing beyond architecture, investigating left field ideas and testing their feasibility collectively as a collaborative effort.