Village 21 is an initiative of Kids Under Cover, a not-for-profit organisation supporting young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The project provides young people with a stable home, communal living areas and wrap around supports.
The architectural solution is modular and highly replicable, designed so it can be easily delivered to a range of priority groups, such as young Aboriginal people.
Kids Under Cover’s typical model is to build relocatable studios in the backyard of a family member or carer’s house. This relieves overcrowding in the home, easing tension and providing the young person with a secure and stable living environment.
The Village 21 project is a scaled-up version of the backyard studio model, collocating a group of studios on a site together. Communal indoor and outdoor areas sit alongside the studios and onsite mentors support the young people to build their capacity and gain living skills.
The modular studios are arranged as a series of mono-pitched houses orientated in such a way to resemble a ‘village’. The design team conceived these as one material, with elevations of colour that reference each other.
As the studios are modular in nature, careful attention was paid to orientating and offsetting them from one another to create a balance between daylight penetration and privacy.
Solid timber details highlight the openings and provide amenity through seating, canopies and privacy screening. These elements add warmth and human scale, outlining the thresholds between the public and private spaces. The simple inclusion of a built in ‘stoop’ on the face of each unit, provides an intermediate interaction zone for youths to interact in the group setting within comfortable boundaries.
An expansive outdoor deck ties together the individual living spaces and acts as a key communal space for gathering and practicing life skills.
This pilot project develops a model of social infrastructure that can be rolled out in different suburban plots. It brings together ideas of modular construction and efficiencies and uses architectural moves to make these ‘villages’ reference the place in which they reside.
There are plans to roll out this infrastructure at multiple urban and regional sites to various cohorts of vulnerable young people. When the housing is no longer required, the studios could be relocated to another village or in the backyards of families or carers.
“Village 21 Preston is a first of its kind support model that provides stable accommodation and wrap-around supports for vulnerable young people exiting the Out-of-Home care system.
This pilot site has been open for two and half years and we’re proud to say the outcomes for the young occupants have exceeded expectations.
Working in partnership with Anglicare Victoria, the village is providing a transformative opportunity for young people to develop life skills in preparation for the transition to independent living. Since entering the village, two thirds of the occupants have found employment, a third have transitioned to independent living and all have shown a measured and significant increase in self-confidence and social independence.”
— Pete Zwiers – Head of Development and Innovation, Kids Under Cover