Ainsley Gommon Architects


ARCH Initiatives





Date Completed

Autumn 2007

Development Overview

“Birchwood” was an existing 14 bedroom hostel, owned by Riverside Housing Association and managed by ARCH Initiatives. The hostel provides short-term residential care and accommodation for people undergoing detoxification from drug and alcohol related addictions. It therefore plays an important role in the community of Birkenhead, where areas of deprivation and unemployment mean that these addictions are at the heart of many of the town’s social and criminal problems.

The Birchwood hostel is housed in a large pair of semi-detached Victorian villas, which were refurbished for the purpose in approximately 1985 – 86. Our brief was to extend the hostel to provide an additional 6 bedrooms and to provide greatly enhanced communal and shared facilities. The hostel had a very extensive rear garden space, which was not well used and the building sat unobtrusively in a well-established residential neighbourhood. We designed an extension which opens the facilities of Birchwood up to the garden space without making the building institutional in character or creating potential problems with adjoining properties.

Access to the site was very difficult and restricted. The project was procured via a PPC2000 partnering arrangement and the Contractor, Bramall, played an active role in the development of the design proposals.

Ainsley Gommon also worked with ARCH Initiatives to refurbish their arts workshops, upgraded their town centre offices, and created an alcohol free bar and café in Birkenhead, further building on the excellent relationship established through this initial project.