Dezeen Magazine

Visual of Helping Hands by Studio Mutt

Davidson Prize awarded to project addressing homelessness in Liverpool

Architecture practice Studio Mutt and researcher Neighbourhood have been awarded the 2023 Davidson Prize for Helping Hands, a concept for independent living facilities in Liverpool.

Helping Hands focuses specifically on the need for homeless accommodation and support services in Bootle in Liverpool, and young people leaving the city's care system.

Studio Mutt and Neighbourhood's design identifies ways to improve existing community infrastructure and could be developed with local residents and specialists.

Visual of Davidson Prize winner Helping Hands
The 2023 Davidson Prize has been awarded to Helping Hands

The Davidson Prize is a design ideas competition that explores the concept of the home. It was launched in 2021 in memory of architectural visualiser Alan Davidson.

Helping Hands was chosen as the winner of the 2023 edition from three finalists, selected from a longlist of 16 projects.

Each entry responded to a theme called Somewhere to Call Home, which invited teams to propose "better solutions for temporary homelessness accommodation".

Architecture practice Studio Mutt and developer Neighbourhood have been awarded a prize of £10,000 for the proposal.

Helping Hands imagines the development of infrastructure that provides care leavers with independent living facilities and employment.

It proposes the use of a site adjacent to Hugh Baird College in Liverpool and incorporates both shared accommodation and individual homes. A key feature of the design is a "repeated garden wall" that the team described as "a reassuring and recognisable presence".

Plan of Helping Hands homeless accommodation
It imagines independent living facilities for care leavers

Architect Sadie Morgan, who was chair of the 2023 Davidson Prize jury, said that Helping Hands won the prize for the way it focuses on "building on existing community infrastructure".

"The idea of homelessness is unsettling to all of us, but the care and quality of creative thought behind this year's submissions to The Davidson Prize has helped push the debate forward with innovative and workable solutions," said Morgan.

"What tipped it for Helping Hands was the sense of people working together on the ground, building on existing community infrastructure, and taking collective responsibility for a better future."

Helping Hands was developed by Studio Mutt and Neighbourhood in collaboration with homeless services provider The Independence Initiative and teaching institution Hugh Baird College – which is also the proposed site of the project.

Accessibility consultant Peter O'Neil, filmmaker Amber Akaunu, poetry society Dead Good Poets Society and Polly Wootton of the Islington Hostel Outreach also contributed.

Alongside Morgan, this year's jury included architect Charles Holland, who was last year's winner, and design museum curator Priya Khanchandani. Yemí Aládérun from Enfield Council and policy director of charity Shelter Osama Bhutta were also on the panel.

"Helping Hands is a worthy winner as it is a great example of how a diverse group from different walks of life can come together to design a project with serious potential human benefit," said Bhutta.

"These small pieces of land exist everywhere so this will be an inspiring example to many others across the country and I hope this can be realised throughout the country."

The award was announced as part of an event at the London Festival of Architecture (LFA). The two other finalists vying for the prize were More Not Less, a scheme based on improving national design codes, and Home Building, a straw-bale, self-build concept.

The visuals are by the Helping Hands team.