James Latham and Garnica support Salvation Army’s Project Malachi

Project Malachi in London is The Salvation Army’s latest homeless accommodation initiative, and the first of its kind to target rough sleepers who have No Recourse to Public Funds. James Latham Ltd and Garnica Plywood have stepped up to support this landmark homeless accommodation with the provision of Duraply for the project’s external requirements…

Duraply supplied by Lathams fro Project Malachi provides shelter for homeless in London

While volunteering for the Salvation Army, trainee architect George Fisher noticed a need for some outdoor social spaces for the residents to relax, connect and enjoy being outside. Out of this need came Project Malachi – a pop-up hostel consisting of 42 units, creating a welcoming, friendly and safe refuge for those needing to use its accommodation and services.

Timeframes around the project were tight, so building with agility was crucial. This led to the project’s lead designer, Fisher, collaborating with U-Build, a pioneering contractor dedicated to simplifying construction processes through sustainable, volumetric and modular construction methods. Alongside Project Malachi’s homeless residents, U-build and George Fisher developed a pioneering flatpack outdoor social space concept.

flatpack design for Project Malachi for homeless in London using Duraply from Lathams

Image credit: Lathams / Project Malachi

Significantly, the use of U-build’s innovative volumetric construction system rapidly accelerated the design and build process, This meant each individual structure could be easily and conveniently built, even if those volunteering to construct the shelters had little construction experience. Importantly, it kept the process inclusive for homeless residents wanting to contribute to the design and build of the structures.

To meet the demands of the spec, ensuring there was no compromise on performance yet keeping costs to a minimum, choosing the right materials was crucial. Despite being easy to assemble and install, Fisher and U-Build had to ensure the durability of the social structures so they could be used and enjoyed by the community for years to come. This meant selecting products that not only looked visually appealing but could also withstand the elements, atmospheric urban pollution and constant occupancy.

building materials from Lathams for flatpack shelter build in London

Image credit: Lathams / Project Malachi

Fisher had worked with leading materials distributor, James Latham Ltd (Lathams), on a previous Salvation Army project and was keen to do so once again. The Lathams team came on board to offer free support and consultancy for Project Malachi, as well as advice on a material solution that could meet the brief. Whilst it was agreed that plywood would provide the best option for the structure, making an immediate choice on brand proved trickier. However, a discussion between Lathams and premium, sustainable plywood brand Garnica during the specification phase proved fruitful. On hearing about the initiative, and the challenge, the supplier was keen to be involved, and agreed to support the product cost of the materials needed. This has resulted in the donation a significant amount of external grade plywood required for the construction of the new outdoor structures, particularly 150m2 of Garnica’s high-performance poplar Duraply.

“The project required highly-resistant but easy-to-work and cost-effective materials to ensure maximum value from the charity’s investment,” said Stuart Devoil, Lathams’ Group Head of Marketing. “Garnica is the perfect solution, embodying all these attributes and more. Seeing these units complete and the space open for occupancy is fantastic and it was a great privilege to be involved in an activity that will enrich and enhance the community.”

Excellent value, exceptionally attractive and with an external warranty of 15 years, Garnica Duraply perfectly dovetailed with the project’s requirements.Its durability, achieved through its proprietary production and treatment techniques, makes it suitable for outdoor use, even in the most demanding conditions, being able to withstand moisture, insect, and fungal damage.

Entirely composed of sustainable plantation Poplar wood, Duraply’s lightness, surface quality, and ease of machining made it the ideal choice. Simple to fabricate offsite and install on-site, the construction phase of the project was fast-paced, with all shelters assembled and installed within three days. During this time, Fisher led local volunteers and hostel residents in the assembly of the flat pack structures. Despite varying levels of confidence and experience they worked together as a team to get the structures built to a high-quality finish.

Project Malachi’s new outdoor seating areas have achieved a friendly, communal atmosphere and a safe space for the residents to relax and socialise.

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Main image credit: Lathams /Project Malachi