When it comes to architecture and design, the focus isn’t always on aesthetics and luxury. Sometimes, it’s about creating spaces that have a profound impact on people’s lives. Architectural designer George Fisher’s remarkable project for Project Malachi, a homeless hostel in London, is a shining example of how thoughtful design can make a real difference.
George Fisher’s journey with Project Malachi began with a simple observation. He noticed that the hostel, home to 42 individuals in Ilford, was lacking outdoor space, a need that became even more apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic. What sets this project apart is that it wasn’t just designed for the residents; it was built in collaboration with them.
Fisher’s solution to create an outdoor social space was the modular U-Build system, developed by Studio Bark. This system relies on a kit of plywood parts that can be effortlessly slotted together to form structures. Not only is it simple and efficient, but it’s also environmentally friendly, as these structures can be dismantled, reused, or recycled when their useful life comes to an end.
Empowering the Residents
Fisher’s approach goes beyond just providing a physical space. He aimed to empower the hostel’s residents by involving them in the entire process, from co-designing prototypes to the three-day build. The result? Three distinct architectural configurations that cater to different needs: solitary contemplation, social gatherings, and communal dining. The design of these structures is nothing short of brilliant. Fisher carved out spaces that seamlessly blend solitude and togetherness, reflecting the collective voice of the residents. U-Build boxes served as the base, while Fisher added his own creative touches—a roof structure, planters, and seating areas.
Community Participation and Inclusivity
One of the standout features of this project is its inclusivity. Standard, simple bolt connections made it possible for local volunteers and hostel residents with varying levels of expertise to participate in the construction. In just three days, these structures came to life, proving that when communities come together, incredible things can happen.
A Space for Connection and Growth
The final design includes a communal table and colorful alcoves for sharing books, all sheltered under translucent plastic roofs. Every piece of plywood used in the project was cut using CNC routing and generously donated by Latham Timber, emphasizing the power of collaboration within a community.
George Fisher’s Project Malachi embodies the potential of modern construction methods to democratize design and construction. It’s a testament to how architecture can go beyond being just physical structures. It can be a vessel for communal growth, learning, and a shared sense of belonging.
The photography is by Andy Billman
What are our thoughts?
George Fisher’s outdoor social space for Project Malachi is more than just a design project. It’s a shining example of the transformative power of architecture when it’s driven by a deep understanding of people’s needs and a commitment to empowering communities. It reminds us that design isn’t just about creating beautiful spaces; it’s about creating spaces that change lives.
From time to time we believe that meaningful stories like George Fisher’s Project Malachi should be celebrated and shared, we hope you agree!
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