Mount Pleasant is a beautiful new sheltered housing project for homeless people set within a secluded and peaceful suntrap courtyard close to Gray’s Inn Road and High Holborn. Residents of homeless hostels are usually the more vulnerable in society.
A significant proportion of them have a history of drugs and alcohol abuse. There is a high incident of mental illness and the majority are workless. Many of them need a great deal of support with resolving health problems, securing a long term solution to their housing needs, learning basic life skills and where possible entering into training/ being given introductions leading to work. All residents are in need of a secure, comfortable, warm and dry place to call home.
The project is entered from a tiny lane through the arched doors of the Victorian hostel building. The entrance is a light, bright, and airy space which opens directly out onto a delightful roof terrace. The tree lined courtyard below is the principle circulation of the project, its main meeting space is in a sense the social heart of the place with little spots for people to sit. There is direct access to a laundry, shared kitchens, a consulting room and the apartments which surround it. It is a place which encourages social interaction. Unplanned encounters between staff and residents which are a vital means of engagement and care of residents.
The hostel provides ensuite accommodation to 52 residents. There are little self-contained apartments for people who need a bit of space to themselves, accommodation in flats for those who are more gregarious, and there are larger accessible units for residents who struggle to get about.
The courtyard itself is formed by the demolition and removal of the central linking part of the original ‘H’ block hostel and the patching in of the long façades with reclaimed and new bricks in the London Vernacular.
Two new apartment buildings.... little houses really....stand sentinel at the short East and West ends of the courtyard. A racy new building fronting Mount Pleasant reinstates the back of the pavement terrace evident in 18th century maps.
The scheme is conceived as a collage of old and new buildings - a kind of palimpsest.