While volunteering for the Salvation Army, intern architect George Fisher noticed the need for outdoor social spaces for residents to relax, connect and enjoy the outdoors. From this need was born Project Malachi – a pop-up hostel consisting of 42 units, creating a welcoming, friendly and safe haven for those who need to use its accommodation and services.
The deadlines around the project were tight, so it was crucial to build with agility. This led the project’s lead designer, Fisher, to collaborate with U-Build, a pioneering contractor dedicated to simplifying construction processes through sustainable, volumetric and modular building methods. Alongside the homeless residents of Project Malachi, U-build and George Fisher developed a pioneering concept of flat outdoor social space.
Significantly, the use of U-build’s innovative volumetric building system quickly accelerated the design and construction process. This meant that each individual structure could be built easily and conveniently, even if those who volunteered to build the shelters had little building experience. Above all, he kept the process inclusive for homeless residents wishing to contribute to the design and construction of the structures.
To meet the requirements of the specification, ensuring that there was no compromise in performance while keeping costs to a minimum, choosing the right materials was crucial. Although easy to assemble and install, Fisher and U-Build needed to ensure the durability of the social structures so that they could be used and enjoyed by the community for years to come. This involved selecting products that were not only visually appealing, but also able to withstand the elements, urban air pollution and constant occupancy.
Fisher had worked with the main materials distributor, James Latham Ltd (Lathams), on a previous Salvation Army project and wanted to do it again. The Lathams team joined us to offer free support and advice for Project Malachi, as well as advice on a hardware solution that could meet the brief. While it was agreed that plywood would be the best option for the structure, making an immediate choice on the brand proved more difficult. However, a discussion between Lathams and premium sustainable plywood brand Garnica during the specification phase proved fruitful. Upon hearing about the initiative and the challenge, the supplier was keen to get involved and agreed to bear the cost of the materials needed. This resulted in the donation of a significant quantity of external grade plywood required for the construction of the new external structures, in particular 150 m2 of high performance poplar Duraply from Garnica.
“The project required materials that were highly resilient but easy to work with and cost effective to ensure maximum value from the charity’s investment,” said Stuart Devoil, Lathams Group Marketing Manager. “Garnica is the perfect solution, embodying all of these attributes and more. To see these units completed and the space open for occupancy is fantastic and it was a great privilege to participate in an activity that will enrich and enhance the community.
Excellent value for money, exceptionally attractive and with a 15-year external guarantee, Garnica Duraply perfectly met the requirements of the project. Its durability, achieved through its exclusive production and processing techniques, makes it suitable for outdoor use, even in the most demanding conditions, being able to resist humidity, insects and fungal damage.
Made entirely of sustainable plantation poplar wood, Duraply’s light weight, surface quality and ease of machining made it the ideal choice. Simple to fabricate offsite and install onsite, the construction phase of the project was fast, with all shelters assembled and installed in three days. During this time, Fisher led local volunteers and hostel residents in assembling the flat structures. Despite varying levels of confidence and experience, they worked as a team to ensure the structures were built to a high quality finish.
The Malachi Project’s new outdoor seating areas have created a friendly, community atmosphere and a safe space for residents to relax and socialize.
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Main image credit: Lathams / Project Malachi