Now nearing completion, the highly anticipated new home for Casey House, a restoration and expansion project led by Hariri Pontarini Architects, is gradually being revealed to the public, with our UrbanToronto Forum member 'skycandy' recently getting a glimpse into Toronto's newest and most advanced home for HIV/AIDS care. As Canada's only independent hospital dedicated to the care and research of HIV/AIDS, the new facility will serve as Casey House's hub housing all operations from community outreach programs to inpatient care programs and community care programs for treatments outside the hospital.
The expansion involved the restoration of an 1875 residence, which was donated to the organization, as well as an expansion on the east end of the house, spanning the entire length of the Isabella Street block. The heritage residence has been restored to its original appearance while the new expansion is built upon ideas of privacy, comfort, light, and air, giving the hospital a critically non-hospital like atmosphere for the patients.
Just as Maggie's Centres across the world aspire to create an inviting, optimistic, and comfortable environment for those undergoing the often long and distressing cancer treatment process, the new Casey House strives to createa care environment to help make the clients feel less like hospital patients under fluorescent lights and more like members of a community staying in a friendly neighbour's house.
The use of large floor-to-ceiling windows provides generous natural light, while warm wood tones, natural stone accents, and a central courtyard, all help to re-inforce a soothing and comfortable environment. The extension's façade mixes brick, masonry, and glass blocks to create a balance between privacy and transparency–which was crucial for a hospital dedicated what had long been, and sadly partially remains, a stigmatized disease.
Inside, communal spaces such as the art room, main eating area, and lobby (pictured below), demonstrate a sense of openness with large windows to the outdoors, unobstructed views, and relatively tall ceilings.
Communal spaces allow clients, visitors, and staff to meet and mingle in a less stressful environment, and to engage in ways that would otherwise be difficult or impossible in a traditional hospital environment. A subtly textured palette of natural tones knit the various spaces together, creating a soothingly cohesive aesthetic.
The open communal spaces are contrasted with the client care spaces (one example pictured below) which are more reserved, and intimate. A balance between public and private was important, as the Casey house aimed to avoid a sense of complete isolation and reservation that is often felt in conventional hospitals.
One of the most unique spaces, and likely to be one of the most enjoyed, is the central courtyard at the heart of the eastern expansion. Envisioned by Hariri Pontarini Architects as a "subtraction from the expansion," the courtyard gives visitors and clients alike an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air while still retaining privacy from the busy sidewalks outside. The massing of the expansion was composed in a way that sunlight would be able to enter the courtyard at certain times of the day, giving a full sense of being outside, rather than being in the shadows of bounding walls.
Other spaces in the new Casey House include a rehabilitation facility for recovering clients, a green roof, a computer lab area, along with a range of flexibly programmable spaces in the heritage structure.
Already the recipient of a Canadian Architects Magazine Award of Excellence, the project is poised to become a model for HIV/AIDS care in Canada, and beyond. In hospitals and other healthcare facilities, the spaces in which clients, visitors, professionals, workers and patients rub shoulders are often overlooked, but the new home of the Casey House demonstrates that those very spaces can play an important role in care and rehabilitation.
We will keep you updated as the final construction details come together, and the new Casey House opens. In the meantime, additional information can be found in our Database file, linked below. Wand to share your thoughts? leave a comment on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in our Forum.
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