Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young


Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

London architects Featherstone Young have completed this day centre for homeless people in east London.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

Built for charity Providence Row, which provides food, clothing and showers to London's homeless, the new Dellow Centre centre provides space for activities to encourage self-expression and learning.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

It incorporates a bicycle workshop on the ground floor, art studio and performing arts space on the first floor and offices for the charity at the top.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

The new structure sits across a courtyard from the charity's headquarters, completed in the 1980s, and is surrounded on three sides by tall neighbouring buildings.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

Stripes of green and yellow perforated panels clad the top and ground floor, while the zig-zagging facade in between angles the large windows away from the street and towards the headquarters opposite to visually link the two.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

The upper storey has a zig-zagging terrace that follows the line of the facade and a bright yellow, irregularly shaped skylight crowns the building.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

Featherstone Young previously designed the London offices for advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy and a house cantilevered over a river in Wales.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

Photographs are by Tim Brotherton.

Here's some more information from Featherstone Young:

Dellow Centre by Featherstone Young

Client brief

Featherstone Young were appointed by Providence Row to design a new arts and activity building as part of their day care facility in Wentworth Street in London's East End. Providence Row is a homelessness charity that provides support to homeless people in Tower Hamlets (one of the UK's most deprived districts) and the City of London. The Dellow Day Centre provides essential services such as food, clothing and showers, helping to restore users’ health and dignity.

The new building will allow Providence Row to operate a range of structured and meaningful activities for their users. The ground floor will house a bike workshop, enabling users to develop their skills and set them on the first steps towards employment. The first floor will contain an art centre for visual and performing arts activities, allowing users to express themselves creatively and develop their artistic skills. Providence Row will use the top floor for office space, while other parts of the building will contain storage and archive facilities for the charity.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young


Featherstone Young were keen to create a thoughtful yet functional building that uses its landlocked site to its full advantage, in order to accommodate as many uses as possible in the limited space available. Because the building (on the site of a former storage building) faces the main day centre across an under-used courtyard, Featherstone Young also wanted to find a design solution that could animate the courtyard and improve connections and flow between the two buildings on the site as a whole.

The main feature of the building is its single-aspect angular façade. Likened to a mask the faceted blinkered windows take cues from the pod windows at Featherstone Young’s award-winning SERICC crisis centre in Essex, offering privacy to those within whilst also providing essential visibility for staff by designing a permeable façade. Above and below the main faceted level are vivid green and yellow perforated cladding panels to the ground floor workshop and the second floor. The building is topped with a colourful, irregular-shaped rooflight that provides a fun and lively aspect for those working in the surrounding higher buildings.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

Conceptually, this mask elevation is intended by Featherstone Young to act as a visual metaphor for Providence Row’s users and to confront the invisibility of homeless people. The striking, colourful building challenges passers-by to ignore what was previously an anonymous space, while its appearance is a visual reminder that homeless people, like the new building created to serve them, can have great depth of character and dignity.

At ground floor level, the large workshop doors open out onto the courtyard, bringing natural light into the workshop and encouraging activity to spill out onto the courtyard towards the main Dellow Centre building. Behind the workshop, large storage spaces have been created for clothing and equipment. Inside, the space is functional and robust - a design approach that is continued throughout the new centre.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

A simple staircase leads from the ground floor to the first floor, where the main space is the art studio. Here the large full-height timber-framed windows flood the room with natural light - ideal for art activity during the day. The faceted windows face away from the street and across the courtyard to the main centre - giving privacy for users, valuable passive surveillance for staff, and creating a positive relationship with main centre. This space can also be fully blacked out for film screenings. Other spaces on this level provide further storage and archive facilities for Providence Row.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young
On the upper level, an open plan office space leads onto an external terrace, where a zig-zag balcony follows the line of the first floor windows. Like the ground floor, a colourful facade gives this level a lively feel, and the palette is repeated in bold vertical stripes along the length of the external wall. A small private meeting room accessed from the main room is lit from above by the large and colourful funnel-like rooflight.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

Throughout the building, an emphasis has been placed on creating a series of robust, flexible and functional internal spaces. Lighting and services are simple and basic, and the building is designed to be easy to use and maintain.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

Planning/budget constraints:

The site is a small, landlocked site, accessed via a small private courtyard. It is landlocked on three sides by tall buildings (a building immediately adjacent to the centre has recently been demolished and will be replaced) and faces the main Dellow Centre which was built in the 1980s. Featherstone Young’s design response was a building that could project its own strong character alongside its neighbours, animate the underused courtyard and enliven the otherwise bland setting.

Dellow Day Centre by Featherstone Young

The client brief had originally been for a two-storey building, although Featherstone Young were also encouraged to explore options for three storeys in order to maximise use of the site. Planning consent was granted for three storeys after the trustees saw the additional possibilities of a higher building. With a strong design concept the building has withstood the rigours of tight cost constraints and was completed on budget.

  • wonderful spaces have been created

  • xtiaan

    A wee bit beautiful, I only wish the sliding door at the bottom concertinaed (is that a word?, it looks wrong, but its right, ugh! you know what I mean…) like the facade does.

    Bottom Door Needs To Fold Like Facade: Surface Continuity.

    otherwise lovely!

    • marvin

      or slide…

  • really interesting project that has been developed around a socially inspired client brief. Nice to see the buildings inhabited by actual people in at least some of the images.
    Shame that the context, both physical and social isn't explained more and we are left interpreting the building as an object rather than as a social construction.

  • faultless, i'd like to see a close up on the detailing of that rooflight thought!

    beautiful, it's buildings like these that make architecture worthwhile.

  • The fist floor windows seem to create a series of 'snap shots' with the subject being whatever is happening inside the space at the time. Really captures the imagination and is fun as well as functional.

  • kimmaple

    Fun, colourful and functional

  • rac

    As much as i appreciate the client brief, colorful perforated facade, yellow skylight, g.f. blending with outside paving and finishing the project on budget, why am i not impressed by the zigzag of the design!! it is stylistically raw and spatially not adding any much value.