‘Hidden’ was built from design principles learnt from collaboration with squatting communities, and Youth House Cooperative. The design is a retrofit of the derelict and squatted Rusholme Bus Depot to create a resource for hidden homeless groups that is operated by Youth House. The thesis explored the question: ‘How can architectural methods be used to represent hidden homeless communities?’ to represent real stories through architecture.

This thesis was led by research into the identities and experiences of hidden homeless communities. The homeless narrative is largely focused on the vis­ible homeless community which we see in our cities daily, which is mostly represented by young white men who visibly occupy the streets through sleeping rough. Additionally, stereotypes of drug and alcohol addiction connected with homelessness perpetrated by media and governing bodies creates hostility towards homeless groups.

To represent the reality of hidden homeless experiences, I have collaborated with Youth House, a voluntary group that operates from first hand experiences of homelessness to provide resources, community, and housing to homeless youth. Spike is a member of Youth House who connected me to the squatting community. I was able to visit multiple squats and festivals, and met with squatters, activists, and artists to understand their identities and experiences, which informed the development of the design.

Collaboration throughout this project led to the development of a collaging methodology, to connect the stories and experiences to architectural spaces. This method was a valuable way to communicate what I was learning and was most reflective of the principles of squatting and respecting that this is an already well-established community. Therefore, ‘Hidden’ was designed to piece together what amazing things hidden homeless groups are already achiev­ing, to show how we can learn from what already exists and represent the reality of these communities.