Nineteenth century convent transformed into eco-friendly homeless centre

Alex Johnson

Belvidere front 3 300x225 Nineteenth century convent transformed into eco friendly homeless centreLiverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) in partnership with Liverpool City Council has transformed Belvidere Family Centre in Toxteth to create a safe haven for people in need of emergency accommodation in a sustainable facility. They describe it as “the UK’s first eco-friendly homeless centre”.

The £3.6 million project designed by John McCall Architects has created 16 self-contained apartments for families who will be supported by homeless organisation SHAP Ltd in partnership with homeless and housing charity The Whitechapel Centre on behalf of Liverpool City Council. The façade of the 1870s Victorian properties, complete with marble pillar entrances and intricate window tracery, was retained and attached to a new side wing and rear extension.

The service will provide support to enable the families to move onto independent living within the community.

The remodelled centre is sub-divided into private, self-contained apartments including a kitchen, dining and living rooms, with en-suite bathrooms. Numerous units can interconnect, allowing families of up to eight people to be accommodated so they can live together.

Family lounges, facilities for children, a playground, laundry, offices, meeting and training rooms, and areas for staff sleeping and storage have been built.

Various green technologies have been installed including a green sedum living roof, photovoltaic solar cells, flat-plate solar collectors and heat pumps converting hot air into energy and to provide hot water. Thermostats fitted to each room regulate temperatures and a centralised thermal store distributes energy from heat pumps, boilers and solar systems. A rainwater harvesting system designed specifically for the centre collects from the main roof to provide 60 per cent of communal water.

The walls have a 0.15 W/m_k u-value compared to the original 2.4, without significantly increasing wall thickness. Energy efficient windows with low maintenance aluminium frames (1.9 W/m_k) and doors add to the green focus. Bird and bat boxes have been attached to the building and trees.

Chief Executive at Liverpool Mutual Homes, Steve Coffey, said: “This scheme addresses many of our key priorities as a social landlord: homelessness, supporting people, regeneration and sustainability. The building was dark and desperately in need of modernising. The scale of the project was enormous. It took three months to demolish and clear the internal structures and attach the original building to the new extension while the 140-year-old shell was retained.”

Councillor Roz Gladden, Liverpool City Council’s assistant mayor and Cabinet member for social care and health, said: “People who use this building are often at their lowest ebb and it is absolutely vital that we house them in good quality facilities.”

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  • Luizze Oliveira

    As a my opinion it is one of the best option to save environment from pollution. This homeless shelter is too comfortable for living which because it has all facilities that are needed to visitors.

  • Pacificweather

    HAs and LAs love their grand schemes. The fact that the same money spent on new build would benefit more people is carefully ignored.

  • zeltia

    It is essential to house the homeless and the use of an old Convent seems appropriate. Congratulations to the people behind this.

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