Case studies

115 Pound Lane, Willesden, London NW10 2HU

This new hostel for the homeless accommodates 85 people, with 48 beds, 23 semi-independent rooms, 14 studio flats. Facilities include a medical room, IT suite, training kitchen, and public café.

Client St Mungo’s
Architects, planning Churchill Hui
Architects, post-planning Buller Welsh
Contractor Quinn London
Contract Sum £8.3m

The project

St Mungo’s is a charity that provides accommodation and support for homeless people. This landmark new centre in Brent is located on the site of a previous hostel and the design truly reflects new beginnings. It is an innovative, light-filled and environmentally-friendly building, with a tree at its heart to symbolise growth and recovery.

Our role

St Mungo’s and Churchill Hui have a longstanding relationship. In 2005, they asked us to carry out feasibility studies to upgrade hostel facilities at the Pound Lane site. This was a disparate collection of buildings, with cramped accommodation, unsatisfactory facilities and poor site usage.

It was recommended that wholesale redevelopment would be the best means of achieving the vision and aspirations for this already much altered site. Although the principal building was locally listed, Brent Council approved demolition and Planning Permission was granted in December 2008.

As concept and planning architects our vision was to create a place of hope and transition, without the institutional and isolating feel of some hostels. Led by Architect Alex Murray, we wanted to create a relaxed, contemporary and welcoming atmosphere, with ‘a heart’ at its centre.

An emphasis on natural materials would be complemented by features such as a fig tree at the centre of the main building, sedum grass on roofs, and ‘living walls’ of climbing plants.

The result

Charles Fraser, CEO of St Mungo’s, describes the centre as ‘a flagship building, purpose-built to provide a special combination of high-quality facilities to benefit residents and the local community’.

Councillor Bobby Thomas of Brent Council enthuses that ‘the new centre will greatly improve standards of accommodation for homeless people in the borough, increasing the range of services available to support their future, including access to accommodation, work and education’.