Homelessness Project – Lewisham, London
The homelessness crisis in London has reached record levels, with 56,500 London households in temporary accommodation in 2018. Affordable temporary homes are often in the private sector, of poor quality, with precarious tenure and rarely meeting space standards. This case study is focused on a high-profile temporary scheme to address the problem: the architect-designed PLACE/Ladywell ‘pop-up village’, which provides ground floor business spaces and 24 well-proportioned homes for homeless/insecurely housed families on a vacant site earmarked for future development in the London Borough of Lewisham.
The scheme, which opened to residents in 2016, is planned and built as a temporary modular structure, fully demountable and can be moved across sites, over a total lifespan of around 60 years. It addresses three aspects of the housing problem:
- the need for good quality temporary housing to house families while the older social housing schemes are regenerated;
- raising the profile and readiness of derelict sites awaiting long-term development;
- experimenting with new methods of housing development and provision and developing the capacity of the modular housing construction industry in line with government policy (DCLG, 2017).
The perceived success of this model has led to its replication locally and beyond. This case study explores to what extent PLACE/Ladywell measures up as a locality-sensitive and responsive intervention addressing spatial injustices and the needs of families. It also explores its impact at a regional scale, as a new initiative called PLACE, that is part-funded by the Greater London Authority, ‘mainstreams’ the model across the Greater London region.