Snow Hill Homeless Centre, a hostel in Birmingham, England, currently with beds for 157, plans a £10 million renovation to expand its services and transition the homeless to more permanent housing. The Centre’s courtyard, surrounded on four sides by five-story buildings, will also be sheltered—by almost 2,700 square feet of canopy made with Solar Glass Weave (SGW) light-transmitting fabric. Fabric Architecture Ltd., Gloucestershire, England, helped with research and development of SGW, which is woven from strands of silicone-coated glass, offers 40 percent light transmission and is fully recyclable.
The Fabric Architecture canopy design features six conical points, each set off from one another to create patterns of light and shadow underneath a steel framework and head rings of clear polycarbonate. The Centre wanted to make the courtyard usable year round, and the material selections allow maximum natural daylight exposure. The total redesign by Hulme Upright Manning architects will provide 88 self-contained apartments that will help homeless men and women to adjust to independent living—and a four-season protected courtyard where those used to living on the streets can spend time outdoors.