We love it when old buildings can be put to good use, but it especially warms our hearts when architects use adaptive reuse to convert empty structures into spaces specially designed to help those in need. London-based firm Holland Harvey Architects has recently done just that by converting a derelict supermarket into a stunning, light-filled homeless shelter with an attached cafe.

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brick exterior with large window revealing a cafe inside

Launched in 2017, Shelter From The Storm is a charitable organization that aims to house and support people who are homeless in London. The organization approached Holland Harvey Architects for help converting an abandoned supermarket into a shelter. Working together, the charity and the architects envisioned a welcoming, temporary home that also offers holistic support to reintegrate the residents into society. As such, the design revolved around creating a purpose-built space to meet the distinct needs of an urban homeless shelter.

brick exterior with some bricks painted light blue

open kitchen and round tables with patterned tablecloths

Related: A decaying shop in Cambodia gains a new life through adaptive reuse principles

The design features two parts: the shelter and a cafe. The cafe features a large, glazed entrance that leads to a well-lit interior with plenty of seating. To create the dual spaces, the designers were determined to use adaptive reuse to cut down on costs and completion time. The existing building featured brick predominantly throughout the interior as well as the exterior, which was kept intact during the renovation. For a unique touch, the team painted the brick walls various, subdued colors.

open kitchen with red tiled walls

round tables in a cafe

The private areas of the homeless shelter feature three dorms (two for males and one for females) with 42 beds. Each person has their own bed and lockable wardrobe. In addition to required amenities such as showers and bathrooms, the building also includes meeting space, a counseling room, a clothing store and a lounge area.

wood table beside large window revealing views of outdoor plants

view of cafe through window of an office meeting room

Behind the scenes, volunteers and residents work in the shelter‘s commercial kitchen to prepare food for breakfasts and dinners. In addition to providing a safe place to stay and freshly cooked meals, they also offer language classes and other resources to help residents get back on their feet.

bathroom with square white tiles from top to bottom

white-tiled bathroom with dual sinks

Shelter from the Storm admits guests to the dorms in the evening only, but during the day, the cafe is open to the local community. Adding this public space to the project enables the locals to feel connected to the organization and those that are in need.

+ Holland Harvey Architects

+ Shelter from the Storm

Via Dezeen

Photography by Nicholas Worley via Holland Harvey Architects