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Student architects from UEL design shed for Barking's vulnerable men

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 October 2019

UEL architecture students presenting their design for the Shed Life project in Barking at the beginning of October. Picture: UEL.

UEL architecture students presenting their design for the Shed Life project in Barking at the beginning of October. Picture: UEL.

UEL

Young architects from the University of East London have designed a shed for marginalised and excluded men, young people and volunteers in Barking.

With plans being presented at the beginning of October, the hope is it will help those men share hobbies and skills and gain access to friendship and a support network.

The project's overall goal is to help reduce loneliness and isolation, with the shed set to act as a point of contact for those in the area with complex health needs, supporting their mental and physical well being.

UEL's architects-in-training spoke with the men who will use the building. They designed a disability-friendly space which is wheelchair accessible and has extra windows and lights to help people with trouble seeing.

The shed has flexible storage boxes that allow it to be reconfigured for different uses and a large meeting table can be set up if needed. A covered outdoor area was added for activities like woodworking and gardening.

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"Architecture can serve as a powerful tool to connect people together," said Ronahi Kaplan, a University of East London student. "We are very pleased with the opportunity to learn while contributing to the community of Barking in the form of designing a communal space."

Community group Shed Life is running the project, which is led by people living on Barking's Thames View Estate. So far, they've raised £1,700 of their £2,000 goal from individual donors, companies in the area, and the National Lottery.

"The Shed Life steering group was very happy collaborating with the students, who really listened and valued their opinions," said Susie Miller Oduniyi, project lead at Shed Life.

"Together they have achieved a modern, bespoke building, designed to capture attention and encourage and inspire people to get involved."

To make the structure a reality, the students are also helping to prepare the project's planning application as part of their technical studies course.

Donations to Shed Life can be made at crowdfunder.co.uk/shed-life-thamesview.

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