Ying Yang: Three architects design housing system for new arrivals

A team of three designers, two of whom are with Allies and Morrison, has designed a prototype for temporary housing for homeless migrants. Our Sofia de los Rios and Constantino Baranda teamed up with Adrian Feige of Populous to devise an ingenious system that provides dignity and comfort for residents. Their entry, Ying Yang!, came in second place out of 21 entries.

They participated in an open competition organised by Commonweal Housing which sought imaginative and viable solutions for new alternative accommodation to existing encampment sites for recent arrivals from Romania. These informal settlements have appeared recently pocket spaces around London’s North Circular Road.

The team proposed a modular system made of individual units each with two halves – one more private and fixed providing the necessities for shelter, the other more open and flexible, providing the opportunity for residents to create a home. The private half consists of a plywood shell for sleeping with a built-in bed frame and storage for clothes and belongings. The more public half is a framed structure which echoes exactly the form of its opposite number, but is translucent. Moveable and more open to individualisation, it provides space for each resident to create a supplementary space of their own – from a place to sit and lounge to a dining table and chairs to a small garden, a place to decorate, or a combination of all these things. Each side has a pitched roof, which when joined together creates an interesting dialogue of opposites and a pleasing sense of enclosure.

Sofia, Constantino and Adrian also proposed an urban structure for how units could be scaled up and adapted to different locations. They can be arranged in a way that frames routes and shared spaces such as lounges, dining areas or tech stations, helping to build a sense of cohesion between residents. This modular urbanism is flexible enough to work in a variety of different scenarios, whether inside a community hall, an existing industrial building or within a redundant office building. Manifested on the scale of a multi-resident settlement, the gabled form and interplay between each unit’s duality creates a rich urban pattern and a visually engaging roofscape.

More information on Commonweal Housing’s competition and next steps can be found here.