Casey House

Toronto
© Hariri Pontarini Architects
Photo © doublespace Photography
Photo © doublespace Photography
Photo © doublespace Photography
Photo © doublespace Photography
Architects
Hariri Pontarini Architects
Location
Toronto
Year
2017

Ten years in the making, the renovation and extension of Casey House, a specialized healthcare facility for individuals with HIV/AIDS, develops a new prototype for hospitals. The facility meets the needs of patients and healthcare providers in a setting designed to evoke the experience and comforts of home. With 14 new inpatient rooms and new Day Health Program servicing a roster of 200 registered clients, the 5,481-square-metre addition brings much-needed space and modernized amenities to augment and renovate the heritage-designated Victorian mansion. The new structure embraces the existing building, preserving its qualities and organizing the day-to-day user experience around a landscaped courtyard.

An embrace emerged as a unifying theme to create a comfortable, home-like user experience, and an atmosphere of warmth, intimacy, comfort, privacy, connectivity, and solidity. Similarly, the language of the quilt, a symbolic expression of the battle against HIV/AIDS, was a source of inspiration for the design.

The architecture is a physical manifestation of the embrace in both the vertical and horizontal planes. The extension reaches over and around the restored Victorian mansion, while the new addition, with its robust, textured exterior, surrounds the central courtyard. Beautifully landscaped and alive, the courtyard is visible from every corridor and in-patient room.

As one of the original mansions built along Jarvis Street, the retention of the existing 1875 building (known colloquially as the “Grey Lady”) maintains the original character of the street, while the addition introduces a dignified juxtaposition of the old and new.

The façade, consisting of a palette of various brick, heavily tinted mirrored glass, and crust-faced limestone, is highly particularized and rich and becomes the architectural manifestation of the quilt. A garden in front, for delight and contemplation, is surrounded by a beech hedge for intimacy and privacy.

Once inside, the experience is about the engagement of the old and new and the organization, or the embrace, around the courtyard, which is the ever-present symbol of life-affirming green, water, and light (trees, fountain, and sunlight). Emphasizing the relationship between the old and new, the heritage building’s brick remains exposed in the Living Room. This central gathering space, featuring a two-storey atrium, is anchored by a full-height fireplace crafted from Algonquin Limestone. A bridge connects the heritage and new spaces on the second floor with long views stretching from end to end.

The courtyard allows direct sunlight into the core of the building on all floors. Given the private nature of the facility, it provides protected outdoor space for users, as well as transparency and clear sightlines across the project.

The design integrates sustainable features inherently related to the clients’ health and wellbeing. Green spaces, high-efficiency tinted glass, cross-ventilation via the courtyard and operable windows, bike racks, rainwater collection cisterns, and locally sourced and reclaimed materials also add to the sustainability profile of the project.

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