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Challenging preconceptions on accommodation for people rough sleeping. – Transition by Design

Challenging preconceptions on accommodation for people rough sleeping.

Floyds Row

In 2019 Transition by Design were commissioned by Oxford City Council to design a new 60-bed accommodation and assessment centre for people who are sleeping rough. We ran a month-long consultation with people experiencing different forms of homelessness and translated what we heard into a design for the new building.

We worked in partnership with Jessop & Cook Architects, a highly regarded local practice. The two practices shared the responsibility of taking the project from concept to completion within an extremely ambitious timeframe.


Transition by Design drove the project from the very early brief development through to gaining full planning permission. We were appointed for our unique combination of skills in community engagement; relationships with people experiencing homelessness and the services set up to help them; our experience of running the Open House project; and, our expertise in ecological architectural design.

Transition by Design drove the project from the very early brief development through to gaining full planning permission. 

The project presented a few key challenges including being an existing building in Oxford’s central conservation area and a very tight programme. Working closely with the client and local planning authority, alongside rigorous research, meant we were able to develop a design that worked within these constraints, celebrating its historical features and complimenting neighbouring Christ Church college and its meadows. 

As a commercial building with class ‘sui generis’, Floyds Row presented the opportunity to challenge preconceptions of a ‘homeless shelter’ and the design process.

The new spaces included therapy, social, 1:1, offices and accommodation.

Through our engagement with different stakeholders, we developed a set of key design principles at an early stage to guide the design decisions going forwards. 

Phase one of the c.£1m project is now open and St. Mungos are the service provider going forwards.

Transition by Design have shown they can find opportunities and solutions and deliver where others see only problems and barriers.

Dave Scholes
Housing Strategy & Needs Manager, Oxford City Council