The Sanctuary

Year | 2021
Location | Sheffield City Centre
Client | City of Sanctuary Sheffield

The client is City of Sanctuary Sheffield, who are part of a nationwide movement to build a culture of welcome and hospitality to asylum seekers in the UK. Their work is based in ‘The Sanctuary’, a unique welcome centre for refugees and asylum seekers in Sheffield City Centre. The Sanctuary staff feel that the welcome centre building needs to be rethought to tackle problems that have arisen out of the spatial arrangement, ultimately to make the building more welcoming and efficient. In early 2021, alterations will be made to the Sanctuary as proposed by a variety of collaborators. This should solve many of the immediate problems, however due to funding issues and a finite lease, City of Sanctuary Sheffield faces an uncertain future and has called upon the LP Programme to develop a long-term vision.

We produced diagrams of different potential processes and outputs, which were presented to the client during the initial weeks of the project to refine our strategy. All members of LP7 were given the opportunity to visit the Sanctuary, which gave the group a real insight into the organisation and helped to present ourselves as a working collective. ‘What makes a welcoming space?’ was a key question that drove the direction of our project, which we aimed to answer using academic research, a design charette, our architectural expertise, and the insight of volunteers and users. This was underpinned by the challenge of defining a welcoming space in an undefined building. Feasibility studies of existing options in Sheffield allowed us to spatialise our research and the client to see possibilities beyond the current site.

During the design process it was decided that a ‘future-focused’ approach was preferable, which meant we had to design our outputs to be useful and effective in future without the presence of our team. Our outputs are designed to be accessible, for example they all have an emphasis on the visual to reduce the impact of language barriers. For future use, we have produced a consultation timeline, ‘top trumps’ for consultation and feasible sites, a Kahoot quiz for engagement and research booklets. We also identified the opportunity to create a live intervention into the sanctuary; creating a tangible output was important to us as a team. We created a new Welcome Tool, which digitalises the sign in process to streamline appointments by acquiring a second-hand iPad and customised stand.


Mentor: Anna Bardos
Client: City of Sanctuary Sheffield
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Students: Esther Cheung, Madeleine Hill, Josh Roberts, Yutian Xiang,
Eve Duggan, Rebecca Earnshaw, Michael Ford, Georgie Scott, Ellie
Wells, Francesca Jebb, Omid Ebrahimbaysalami, Chi-Jui Li, Ye Sun,
Linlin Wang, Xinyu Zou