Social Impact: Hardwick House

Social Impact Hardwick House Layout 4

Social Impact: Hardwick House

This expanded Case Study for the project Hardwick House has been created with the help of specialist consultants Hoare Lea to demonstrate how we evidence Social Impact through the places that we create.

Located in Teesside, Hardwick House is a supported housing facility offering 20 single self-contained flats for military veterans who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Provided by Riverside, the modern contemporary facility provides up to 18 months of subsidised accommodation, support, and training for ex-Armed Forces service personnel irrespective of their length of service or reason for discharge.

The accommodation is close to local amenities and offers a safe and secure environment which includes a fully furnished, self-contained flat alongside an IT suite, training kitchen, multi-functional area, and 24-hour support staff. Military veterans often find the military to civilian transition distressing with many experiencing vulnerabilities to homelessness[1], the purpose of the environment is to provide individuals with support, education, training, independent living skills, and accommodation to help veterans integrate back into the community.

[1] Morris, J. & Hanna, P. (2023) The Military to Civilian Transition: Exploring Experiences of Transitions to ‘Civvy Street’ and Implications for the Self. Journal of Veterans Studies

Social Impact of the Design

Co-production & social impact

With military veterans facing significant complexities in their transition from military to civilian life[1], and facing potential risks from terrorist and extremist groups, the Hardwick House design team worked in a way that was sensitive to the complex issues surrounding the project.

The design team utilised methods of co-production to maximise the positive impacts of the project and offer a design that was fit for purpose and served the end users needs2. In negotiating the issue of security, the design team worked with the police to provide ‘secure by design’ input alongside broader advice from the police anti-terrorism specialists to ensure the occupants were protected from potential terrorist threats.

This resulted in the installation of bollards to keep vehicles away from the building façade, manifestation to ground floor windows to prevent anyone outside identifying people in the building, and interlocked doors in the entrance lobby to prevent unauthorised access to the building. To ensure that the environment met the needs of the veteran population, the design team involved end users in the design and development of the training kitchen and IT suite.

In addition, as part of the design process the design team visited a similar scheme, ‘The Beacon’ at Catterick Garrison, where they explored the facility and gained the perspectives of military veterans living in that facility which fed back into the design of Hardwick House.

1 Iversen, A. C., et al. (2009). The prevalence of common mental disorders and PTSD in the UK military: Using data from a clinical interview-based study. BMC Psychiatry, 9, 1–12.

2 Realpe, A., & Wallace, L. M. (2010). What is co-production. London: The Health Foundation, 1-1.

2556 SAN 002 Hardwick House
Social Impact Health Welbeing 2

Health & Wellbeing: Military veterans often experience acute distress and mental health difficulties [1], as a result the design team recognised that the health and wellbeing concerns for this project were more specific than most residential units. As a result, there were specific design interventions to ensure the environment provided end users with a space that was safe whilst experiencing acute distress.

To prevent unauthorised access all windows have restrictors. Due to the height of the building these restrictors also have lockable overrides to ensure resident’s safety and wellbeing. All 20 of the residential units have windows with a view to the outside and natural ventilation, demonstrating a commitment by the design team to embrace the health and wellbeing benefits of these features, whilst also considering the safety and wellbeing of the residents given the complexities of their lives.

[1] Peris, J., Hanna, P., & Perman, G. (2022). “It’s all very well for politicians in Whitehall to run a war, but they're not on the ground”: UK military veterans’ experiences of betrayal-based moral injury. Traumatology.

Social Impact Diversity Equity Inclusion

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: P+HS have provided a facility for military veterans who were experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness, designed in a way that is sensitive to their different needs through its use of secure design features, training spaces, IT facilities, and self-contained accommodation.

The design is an accessible design with wheelchair access, lifts provided between the floors, and adjustable height kitchen worktops. Further, the extensive service user and carer co-production involvement demonstrates a commitment to hearing the voices of people experiencing distress and incorporating their needs into the design of the environment.

In the construction phase there was a desire to allow veterans or apprentices to be involved with the construction of the building. For example, a person was brought in via jobcentre plus on a trial and was offered a job by the groundworker.

Social Impact Social Cohesion

Social Cohesion: The design of Hardwick House included a reception and waiting area which allows residents to interact with staff, meet each other, and meet visitors. In addition, the multi-function room, IT suite, and training kitchen all offer opportunities for military veterans to interact with each other and the staff team.

As such, the design offers opportunities for social interaction in a safe and secure environment and also provides military veterans the opportunity to interact with, and seek support from, others residing at the facility. Such interaction between military veterans is understood as crucial in the transition from military to civilian life [1].

[1] Morris, J. & Hanna, P. (2023) The Military to Civilian Transition: Exploring Experiences of Transitions to ‘Civvy Street’ and Implications for the Self. Journal of Veterans Studies

Broader Social Impact

The design of the Hardwick House was sensitive to the history of the local area and the materials used were chosen to tie in with the neighbouring properties, such as the use of white brick, selected to marry up with the brick used on the neighbouring ‘Great Expectations’ building. In addition, the project offers potentially extensive broader social impact by virtue of providing housing, support, education, safety, and training for a vulnerable population.

For example, a significant minority of Armed Forces service leavers face considerable stress on the return to civilian life, which can result in homelessness, mental health difficulties, and social isolation [1]. Therefore, providing a safe environment which enables a successful reintegration into society offers broader social impacts which benefit not only the military veterans, but also a potentially significant reduction in health and social care expenditure via such a targeted and relevant intervention [2].

[1] Johnsen, S. and Fitzpatrick, S. (2012) Multiple Exclusion Homelessness in the UK: Ex-Service Personnel: Briefing Paper No. 3 (Edinburgh: Heriot-Watt University).

[2] Clarkson, P., Giebel, C. M., Challis, D., & True, M. (2013). Cost-effectiveness of a pilot social care service for UK military veterans. Journal of Care Services Management, 7(3), 95-106.

Social Perceptions of the Project

Given the sensitivity of Hardwick House in terms of both the enhanced security needed, and the potential vulnerability of the residents there is little data on people’s perception of the scheme. However, one resident, Nathan Millward, spoke to a reporter at Teesside Live to describe the impact Hardwick House has had on him. As Nathan comments:

"Although I was in a very bad place mentally, I realised that, to build the new life I wanted for myself, I had to take advantage of everything that was offered to me…In being discharged from the army I went from having everything I wanted to having nothing… It’s thanks to Hardwick House that I’m now in a good place, mentally and in my everyday life"

Nathan was a resident at Hardwick House for just over a year when he moved on to his own flat and started a job for County Durham helping vulnerable young people and adults