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Asylum for homeless youth. Honorable mention for SafeHouse project

Dobrawa Bies
20 of April '21

{Student}, a student at the Wroclaw University of Technology moved by the problem of homelessness among young people, created the SafeHouse center project. Her idea, which provides shelter for young people in distress, also exemplifies a number of environmentally friendly solutions. The work won an honorable mention in an international competition organized by the UNI platform.

The competition "The Safe House - Homes for the homeless students" was aimed at students from all over the world. As a task, they were to design hostels for homeless youth that would not only provide shelter, but also conditions for coping with traumas and the opportunity to work within the campus. The proposed center would stand in Jackson, Mississippi. The goal of the project was to not only provide temporary shelter, but to provide a sense of community and individual identity. Contest organizers cited statistics that nearly one and a half million public school students in the United States became homeless at some point during the 2017-2018 school year. The reasons ranged from one parent's addiction, to financial problems caused by the economic crisis, to the destruction of a home by a hurricane.

Projekt SafeHouse,
strefa wejściowa Projekt SafeHouse,

The project by a student at the Wroclaw University of Technology received an honorable mention

© Katarzyna Lech

The submitted projects were evaluated by a three-member jury consisting of: David Thompson (Assembledge+), Jasmit Rangr (Rangr Studio), Kevin Daly (Kevin Daly Architects). Among the appreciated works was the project The SafeHouse by Katarzyna Lech, whose work, which is also an engineering diploma carried out under the direction of Anna Bać, Ph.D., arch professor at the university, received an honorable mention.

space for homeless youth

Katarzyna Lech designed a four-story modular building with a green courtyard in Jackson, which is a safe space for 150 young people.

SafeHouse is a space designed for use by homeless minors. The design goal was to create a place that would become an asylum and restore the teenagers' lost sense of security. In addition, the designed facility is expected to have a regenerative effect on their mental and physical health. The atmosphere created by architectural means is intended to encourage new friendships and personal development, the author explains.

Projekt SafeHouse,
aksonometria Projekt SafeHouse, schematy

The facility is four-story and consists of modules

© Katarzyna Lech

The building combines functions that cater to the needs of users, and additionally includes spaces that foster relationships with peers, create community and inspire personal growth. It includes both private areas - single rooms, and semi-public areas - hygiene and sanitary rooms, kitchenettes, public public areas - themed spaces, study rooms, public dining room and recreational areas in the form of an inner courtyard and green utility terraces, a year-round garden, and public specialized areas, i.e. rooms for individual and group therapy and offices of specialist doctors. The open first floor with a dining room and year-round garden provide a place for integration with the local community and are points of casual employment for residents of the center. This is also where a plant emergency room operates, to which those willing could donate their plants to improve their condition.

Projekt SafeHouse,
kapsuła przyrodnicza

A plant emergency room operates on the center's grounds

© Katarzyna Lech

multiplication of modules

The student created the building by multiplying the individual module. She placed public areas on the first floor, and allocated the next three floors only for residents. The residential floors were designed as three rings surrounding the inner courtyard. They contain so-called " residential capsules," bathroom modules, kitchen modules, study and rest areas, and thematic modules to stimulate imagination and develop skills.

Projekt SafeHouse,
przekształcalny mebel

Living capsules with specially designed furniture

© Katarzyna Lech

Theresidential capsules would be used by a single person. Their equipment would be a multifunctional piece of furniture with the ability to pull out, slide in and unfold elements. This would allow young residents to customize their rooms as needed.

Projekt SafeHouse,

first floor plan of SafeHouse

© Katarzyna Lech

In the southern part of the center's plot, the author planned a garden with vegetable and fruit crops, an orchard, a basketball and volleyball court and a skate park. The asylum also included a parking lot with charging stations for electric cars and parking spaces for motorcycles and bicycles. The spaces would be sheltered by wooden shelters with climbing plants to prevent vehicles from overheating.

"green building"

The building consists of four usable floors above ground, and is not shaded or overshadowed by surrounding buildings. It was designed in the trend of sustainable architecture. SafeHouse is constructed using glulam and CLT technology with the use of prefabricated elements, using locally available materials. Most of the windows are tilt, turn or sliding and equipped with ventilators. The architect sought to reduce the use of artificial light by illuminating the technical and storage rooms with small window openings as well. A heat pump, mechanical ventilation with recuperation, and a photovoltaic system to obtain solar energy were used here. The facility uses waste heat from a neighboring building. The student also provided for gray water recycling systems, storage and use of rainwater.

Projekt SafeHouse,
budynek od strony ogrodu

The SafeHouse is constructed using glulam and CLT technology.

© Katarzyna Lech

All the solutions and ideas presented were aimed at creating the right conditions for minors to live and develop. SafeHouse should be a space where everyone will find a place for themselves, but will also be able to establish relationships with others, and where residents will feel proud and safe. The building is visible in the city's skyline, standing in opposition to the problem of the "invisibility" of the homeless, and is an integral part of the urban fabric, promoting sustainable architectural solutions, concludes Katarzyna Lech.


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