Interior Design School of Design

Mhairi Sinclair (she/her)

I am a fourth Year Interior Design student from Scotland with a keen interest in the way design can improve an individual’s experience of their built environment, shaping their quality of life. My graduate project has centred around the creation of a community known as ‘Collective Pathways’, which proposes an alternative pathway for care-leavers. It seeks to avoid the ‘Care Cliff Drop’ often experienced by young people when leaving care, easing the transition from care to independence. The concept of home, its true meaning, and the way the home environment shapes, and is in turn shaped, by an individual’s identity has been the central focus explored throughout.


Collective Pathways

Collective Pathways

“Home fulfils many needs: a place of self expression, a vessel of memories, a refuge from the outside world, a cocoon where we can feel nurtured and let down our guard….. those of us lucky enough to have a home may rarely reflect on our good fortune.” Clare Cooper Marcus

Collective Pathways provides transitional housing for young people who have grown up in care, as they transition towards independent living. The space will provide a home environment whilst creating a network of support amongst staff and residents, which continues long after residents have moved on to independent living outwith the home. Pathways is a campus based setting comprising of 3 buildings, two residential and one main house, on the grounds of the former Tureen Street Primary, Glasgow. The campus like setting has been inspired by the architecture of a traditional tenement building, which helped foster the sense of community synonymous with pre war Glasgow tenements.

Having broadened the definition of what is meant by a care leaver to include younger individuals aged 15-16 who are still under the guardianship of the state, but are on the cusp of independent living, it begins the process of preparing young people within care for life after it and seeks ultimately offer a route through and out of care which is both gradual and supportive, in order to avoid the care cliff drop that so many care leavers speak of. Residents will move into the younger building at 15, before transitioning into Rathad House as they get older. They will gradually learn the process of independent living from a network of trained support staff, all whilst living in a safe space, benefitting from the cross generational network of support provided by the campus. Younger residents benefit from the wisdom of those currently experiencing independent living, whilst the older residents experience independence but as part of a community, preventing isolation and loneliness experienced by so many care leavers post care.

Young people growing up in care often experience identity issues in adolescence and beyond resulting from the displacement and trauma of life in care, leading to feelings of a lack of self worth. Pathways seeks to create a home in the truest sense, providing a supportive and nurturing home environment which will have a positive impact on the person during those pivotal years of development, helping residents to foster a positive sense of self worth whilst providing an environment which will allow them to feel a sense of autonomy over the space allowing them to express themselves, and their identity.



Lemn Sissay Quote


Full Site Elevation

Conair House Description

Connair Apartment Entrance

The entrance hallway marks the comforting moment of returning home, leaving the public space behind, entering the private. The Window Seat marks this key moment in the transition from public to private, a peaceful moment of contemplation. Images on the wall of the residents emphasises that this home belongs to the residents, this is their space. A warm, textural materiality was chosen to reflect this comforting space.

Open Plan Living/Kitching/Dining Visual 1

Open Plan Living/Kitchen/Dining Visual 2

The Living Space marks the heart of each apartment, comprising of an open plan living/kitchen/dining space. Within this space there are three key focal points: a feature fire place in the heart of the living room to create a cosy space for residents to relaxx together. The dining area provides the space for residents to eat together and allow for guests from the other apartment to join in. The kitchen is both a social space as well as a learning area. Its ample seating areas, recipe display corner, large pantry and open display of equipment is designed to encourage engagement and the learning of cooking and other life skills.

Wall Tile Visual

Many young people growing up in care, and beyond care, speak of feeling as though they are a number on a file, overlooked by society. The wall tile is a crucial aspect of the home, acting as an alternative to a door number. Instead of each apartment entrance or bedroom foor being labelled with a number, resdients will be asked when arriving to create a personalised tile. This tile will then signify this space (bedroom for younger residents, apartment for older residents) as their own. It acts as a personal marker signifying the transition to their own private world: their bedroom. It gives a sense of autonomy over the space and provides an opportunity to display express themselves.



'Displayboard' Multi Purpose Furniture

This bespoke furniture will be the same in every bedroom, consisting of a wall of fitted storage with a built in window seat and a modular, multi purpose ‘Displayboard’. The multi purpose bedroom furniture which can be easily adapted to be a headboard, display unit or desk/dressing table. Compact and easy to move/navigate the furniture allows the residents to adapt their bedrooms to suit their likes and needs allowing them to alter their bedroom layout , giving further autonomy within their space. The above images highlight the different ways in which the furniture can be adapted.

Rathad House Description


Both residential buildings will house a communal laundry space, which acts as a social hub as much as a space to learn the life skill of doing laundry. Inspired by a traditional Scottish washhouse or steamie, traditionally used by tenement residents. Many key elements such as the central bar stand , the metal laundry baskets and the light up signage were all inspired by images of steamies. In Rathad, the laundry is connected to the communal living room wit the open glass wall partition signifying the space as a centre for socialising. the seating, refreshment stand and the upper level balcony mezzanine encourages interaction with all residents ensuring residents need never be alone unless they wanted to be.

Living/Laundry Visual 2

Therapy/ Quiet Contemplative Space

Both residential homes will house a therapy room/quiet contemplative space for residents to come to and chat about any issues they may be having, Flooded with natural light the space provides both an area for both group discussion and then a more private space for time alone after a difficult session. This seating area has been designed with an outward view to the grounds and surrounding nature for a calm/relaxing element. A bespoke wooden partition wall was designed to allow for a feelng of privacy but also allowing the natural light to flood through. Designed each building with one of these rooms as i felt it was important that residents did not have to leave their home in order to access a space like this.

Therapy/Quiet Contemplative Room Visual 2

The Central Staircase: ‘A Re-imagining of a Traditional Scottish Close’

Central to both residential buildings is the central staircase where, inspired by a traditional Scottish close, a central structure has been created which reimagines the close as the central social hub in the heart of the tenement connecting both the residential spaces and the residents. It has a dual purpose of acting as both a social hub and activity space, but also providing an area for displaying donated items which residents can then use to personalise their space.

Stair Axonometric

‘Library Pods’: As many residents may be unable to afford to purchase decorative items and may not have many possessions when arriving to the space, the structure will house charitable donated items, both second hand but also new goods called Gift in Kind, donated by companies like amazon etc. (a common practice in charity shops). The items will be displayed in pod like structures on each floor of the structure, known as ‘Library Pods’. Each floor will have a different purpose or theme holding different goods. these pods act as a focal point helping users to navigate the space providing a focal point and key space of engagement when entering for the first time.

Stair Axonometric 2

Activity Space: The Space outwith the pods on each level will then act as an activity space with the activity reflecting the items on display in each pod. on that level. This structure allows for residents who may feel intimidated walking into the larger communal spaces to come together in a space which centres around an activity, which can often be less intimidating and helps stimulate conversation. These spaces are designed to be for smaller groups or individual residents to spend time as opposed to a large meeting space.

Stair Visual

Stair Pod Interior Visual

Visual of the Art Exhibition Pod and Drawing/Craft Space

Visual Of Bedroom showing Process of Personalisation

Rathad House Studio Apartment Entrance Showing Personalised Wall Tile

As with the younger residents bedroom doors, the residents of Rathad House will design a personalised wall tile to adorn the wall as they enter their private apartment instead of a number on the door. Each front door to the studio apartments are recessed in order to provide total privacy and symbolise the passage from public to private.

Studio Apartment Axonometrics

An axonometric showing an example of a studio apartment for the older care leavers who reside in Rathan House. The apartment was designed to emulate a mini version of the apartments in Conair House with similar features. Each apartment features a window into the outside hallway with a window seat allowing for the apartments to be open to the outside so as to prevent isolation. Similarly, a window has been placed near the kitchen table allowing for an openness and reflecting the internal kitchen windows often found in tenement flats. The materiality was chosen to be both textural and warm but muted so as to allow for personalisation. Elements like the cushions, rugs, lighting etc. can be removed and placed in the stair structure as a donation. Tones of soft green and blue reflected the material journey of the hallway maintained throughout the building whilst also being calming colours.

The Main House Description

The Main House Communal Kitchen showing Teaching Station

Collective Pathways is a space which encourages the return of former residents so that they will forever see the space as a home. The main house provides a space for them to return for both the comfort of a home cooked meal and conversation with their pathways family members ensuring a network of support is always provided for. Security was carefully considered in this space with a separate entrance provided. The Kitchen was designed to be both open and visible to encourage engagement and interaction with cooking and learning whilst socialising. A large island has been designed to double for both a seating/eating space as well as a training kitchen. Visiting chefs will be invited to teach cooking lessons and other skills helping to facilitate employment in the hospitality industry as well as learning valuable life skills.

Kitchen Visual 2 highlighting the 'Pathways Family Portrait Wall'

When residents are ready leave the building they will be able to take their personalised tile with them, with the the home keeping a copy which will then be hung on the family portrait wall in the communal kitchen acting as a permanent reminder to former and current residents that pathways will always be their home through this symbolic detail.

Visual Showing Support Hub

Each residential building houses a support hub. This space in the main house is for returning residents to use where they can seek advice from staff who know and care about them overcoming that sense that they are a nameless, number on a file or a person in the queue on hold to speak to a service provider. The space was designed to feel as though you were sitting with a parent getting advice filling out a jo application or a saas form etc. The support hub will provide a similar purpose in each residential building with trained staff on hand to offer assistance.

Multi Purpose Workshop Visual

This is the key space where visiting lecturers, tradesmen, artists etc. can come to Pathways and run workshops in a variety of trades and skills. which will help facilitate a pathway to employment or further education as well as acting as a hobby based activity. In addition to the workstations there is a seating area for lessons to be given which also doubles as an exhibition space art wall for painting.

Study Hub Visual

The study hub has been designed to replicate a home office/study space, comforting and inviting. It provides each resident with their own desk and bespoke shelving has been designed to create storage space with opportunities for personalisation. The space seeks to address the issue of digital poverty in care leavers who often have no access to smart technology such as wifi and resources to help further their education. It provides both a quiet zone and a collaborative seating area featuring presentation boards.

A Home Should Not Be A Luxury