The winner of the 2023 Davidson Prize has been announced during a special live event held last night in Shoreditch as part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.
A team led by Studio Mutt, Liverpool’s The Independence Initiative, and a development company Neighbourhood took home the £10,000 top honors for their Helping Hands proposal, which calls for a consolidation of existing spaces for aid organizations into a “nurturing communal landscape” on the campus of the city’s Hugh Baird College.
They were responding to the contest’s theme of ‘Somewhere to Call Home’, which tasked entrants with selecting a hypothetical greenfield or brownfield site with space for up to 50 persons for renewal under the imagined conceit that would have made all unoccupied structures illegal under UK law. "The level and quality of engagement with service users and providers was extremely impressive, and the judges applaud the idea of a project deeply rooted in place," she added finally. "The solution applies design intelligence to tap into and join up local support networks – with tangible and visible results."
Two other projects were named Runners-up, along with the 2023 People’s Choice winner. This year marks the third overall edition of the competition. More information about each proposal can be viewed below.
1ST PRIZE - Helping Hands by Studio Mutt, Neighbourhood, and The Independence Initiative
Project description: "The National Audit Office suggests that a third of young people leaving care experience homelessness within two years, and that a quarter of homeless people previously lived in care. Recent studies also found that 41% of care leavers were not in education, employment or training, compared to 15% of all 19-year-olds. Helping Hands seeks to connect these issues and facilitate an infrastructure to help care leavers transition to independent living and meaningful employment. The site is taken from leftover spaces of a typical urban block adjacent to Hugh Baird College in Liverpool, which already hosts several expert organisations offering support to homeless and vulnerable people. The proposal opens and connects the ‘backs’ of these organisations and reorients them within a nurturing communal landscape. Shared accommodation for care leavers occupies one corner of the backlands while individual homes are arranged across the site reflecting greater degrees of independence. The repeated garden wall is a reassuring and recognisable presence, creating spaces of varied character and incorporating small-scale social and civic areas."
Project description: "Re-Group's team has lived experience of hidden and childhood homelessness, with expertise across policy, architecture, landscape, play, engineering, trauma counselling and broadcast journalism. More Not Less responds with a design code to encourage aspiration rather than a race to the bottom. The proposal tests its principles on a design for an intergenerational living place, mainly for families with children. The site on Kingsland Road in Hackney, London, currently has planning approval for a temporary accommodation scheme that Re-Group believe is not fit for purpose."
Home Building by Wild & SNaB
Project description: "Twelve homes of varying sizes and a multifunctional live / workspace for a community of 50 will be constructed using locally sourced natural materials– with particular focus on straw as a by-product of agricultural activity. Learning, collaboration and sustainable production generate a sense of belonging, offering participants a real stake in the places they live. Throughout construction, 12 trainees would live on site in a live / work building, providing participants with the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with each other and the wider community. The community land trust will maintain the homes at affordable rents in perpetuity, with the newly qualified natural builders being offered permanent residence and the opportunity to participate in future schemes or seek construction employment in the area. The remaining housing would be allocated to vulnerable people, who would join a community invested in its homes and countryside."
PEOPLE'S CHOICE PRIZE - Switch by Rigugio
Jurists, including last year’s winner Charles Holland, feted each proposal through a presentation process, which culminated last week in London. Sadie Morgan, the 2023 Jury Chair and co-founder of dRMM, spoke to the rigor of the selection process, saying: “Collectively, this year’s entries show the value of multidisciplinary design thinking to a subject that needs tackling now. Choosing an outright winner was tough; what tipped it for Helping Hands was the sense of people working together on the ground, building on existing community infrastructure, and taking collective responsibility for a better future.”
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