Urban integration for Canada's leading Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the largest mental health care/addiction treatment and research facility in Canada, is undergoing a major transformation on its 27 acre site, in a mixed retail and residential urban neighbourhood in Toronto.
CAMH developed a vision in 1998 to create an “urban village” for its comprehensive site redevelopment. This innovative concept was developed with the goal to fully integrate mental healthcare into the community, in order to provide a more normalized treatment environment for patients.
By extending the existing fabric of surrounding city streets into the site, the hospital’s new buildings will be distributed on different city blocks amongst other mixed-use non-hospital buildings, in order to contribute to the revitalization of the neighbourhood.
The first phase of this redevelopment is a project known as “Alternate Milieu”, designed for transitional residential and outpatient care for 72 clients in the Addiction and Mood & Anxiety programs. The concept of “urban integration” is supported by the construction of three distinct low-rise apartment-like buildings, each accommodating 24 clients along a tree-lined city street. A separate flexible, office-type building houses the Addiction Outpatient programs.
The key to the success of this new facility is the creation of a home-like environment that is filled with ample natural light and views to the outdoors. An intimate social milieu is created by the grouping of six clients on each of the four floors, each client with a private bedroom and WC, sharing the use of living/dining and kitchen. For each building, all clients have easy physical and visual access to a large landscaped courtyard garden.
The concept of the “House and Garden in the City” reinforces the vision of a normalising, healing environment that fosters and supports clients’ recovery and return to the community.