‘A weekend haven’ - Homeless village hailed as one of Scotland’s most attractive places to stay

A purpose-built village for homeless people on Edinburgh’s waterfront has been hailed as one of the most attractive places to stay in Scotland in a new lifestyle bible inspired by the country’s “coorie” trend.

Sunday, 29th September 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Monday, 30th September 2019, 14:39 pm
Josh Littlejohn pictured at the new Social Bite village, Granton. Picture by Ian Rutherford

Social Bite’s venture in Granton – which saw ten two-bedroom houses open last year – is showcased in The Coorie Home, a new guide to “beautiful Scottish living”.

Compiled by Beth Pearson, the book – which will be launched in new Edinburgh bookshop Toppings this week – is said to offer “a fresh take on all that home means”.

Scotland’s first homeless village, which was created on council-owned wasteland, is compared to “a weekend haven, the sort of Highland retreat folk seek out to recharge from the stresses of city life.”

One of the bedrooms. Picture Ian Rutherford

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However, the book also highlights how the village is home to “some of the most vulnerable members of society” and praises the homes as “cosy, inhabitable spaces for those who need them most”.

Coorie was identified as a new Scottish lifestyle trend at the end of 2017 by VisitScotland, which predicted the promotion of feeling snug, sheltered and cosy could see it become the nation’s answer to Hygge, Denmark’s famous way of life.

Leith-based publishers Black and White released The Art Of Corrie, the first book inspired by the trend last September.

Black and White describes the new book as an exploration of homes that are “stylish, comfortable and an irresistible sanctuary from the outside world”.

Social Bite housing in Granton.

The book insists that coorie is not a concept which is dependent on class or wealth: “It is a lived experience available to everyone who would like to adopt it as their own.”

It explores hundreds of years of how people have lived across Scotland and also highlights the growing trend for “alternative living” in the likes of shipping containers, renovated industrial spaces and houseboats, due to the rising cost of buying or renting traditional homes.

Social Bite’s venture, where the residents are offered the chance to stay for up to 18 months, is featured in a section exploring the transformation of Edinburgh’s waterfront communities in recent years.

The new book draws a contrast between the Social Bite Village, which has been created for people to stay for up to two years, and the floating luxury hotel Fingal, which opened earlier this year and charges upwards of £300 for a cabin for a night.

Some of the home interiors.

The book states: “Two polar opposite residential concepts have recently been developed. Both illustrate coorie ideals, but in very different ways.

“The Social Bite Village encapsulates how elements of the coorie home can be accessible for everyone. Approaching the small cluster of homes, you could mistake the village for a weekend haven, the sort of Highland retreat folk seek out to recharge from the stresses of city life. But these are not exclusive holiday homes. The people who live here are some of the most vulnerable members of society.

“In addition, of course, to its essential purpose, the Social Bite village embodies the ideals of the coorie home by being accessible in a practical and symbolic sense. Physically, each unit, built by donations from each local business, makes effective use of space but creates, too, a real sense of personality. Social Bite has made use of the resources around them to create cosy, inhabitable spaces for those who need them most.”

In The Coorie Home, Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn says: “We’re not pretending this is a one-stop solution. But in Edinburgh alone there are 600 homeless people in B&Bs costing £6 million a year, and yet there are pockets of vacant council-owned land.”

One of the kitchen areas.