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MEND: Hiding in Plain Sight

Part 2 Project 2012
Hanna Benihoud
Newcastle University, UK

In these times of recession men are increasingly suffering from depression or are victims of domestic violence. With as little as 5 places of refuge for men in the whole of the UK compared to 500 for women, there is little service being provided for this need and the problem is not being talked about or addressed socially. Mend is an anonymous safe house for men located in the heart of the city Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Every successful safe house relies on deception to hide its truths allowing it to remain anonymous. Mend’s cover story is the architecture of the assumed plant room. Plant rooms go ignored by the average passer by as a non entity, using this to it’s advantage the refuge has the ability to hide in plain sight, becoming anonymous within the urban fabric. Residing on the rooftop of Eldon Square shopping centre the refuge, cladded in rubber, blends into the biennial grey landscape of the existing roof disguising itself from public view. It’s functional layout of the plan is an extension of the architectural language of the roof leaving it heard to determine what is plant and what is refuge.

Mend and Eldon Square shopping centre develop a mutualistic symbiotic relationship. Mend uses a retail unit as its public face of the charity contributing to the existing social responsibility, recycles existing plant waste converting it to usable energy for the refuge as well as using Eldon Square’s structural grid to transfer its structural load.

Once in the refuge the interior is transformed to a world of tactile tectonics, a place filled with DIY, therapy rooms, communal areas and a public pigeon loft. Levels of anonymity continue within the refuge as well constant visual connection with the city below creating an escape from the society without ostracisation.

Hanna Benihoud

Matthew Margetts
Jo McCafferty
• Page Hits: 4637         • Entry Date: 20 September 2012         • Last Update: 20 September 2012