Robertson House Crisis Centre

Toronto, ON

Project Facts

  • Location

    Toronto, ON

  • Status

    Completed 1998

  • Size

    27,000 Sq. Ft.

  • Partner

  • Client

    City of Toronto Housing and Homelessness Services

A temporary shelter for homeless women and their children, the renovation and addition to Robertson House creates the experience of a single house—a safe, supportive, and nurturing shelter for collective and individual living. Working within the limitations of an existing structure, a tight neighbourhood site, a complex program, and a restricted budget, the House blends with its surroundings to dispel the “special housing” stigma. The lobby, designed to give a feeling of security from the street, is organized to accommodate the flow of residents, visitors, strollers, etc. Other communal spaces include a circular story room and indoor play area, a youth room, a prayer/meditation room, and various activity nooks. The second floor bedrooms are modest and intimate, each with a private window seat in the dormers overlooking the courtyard.

​​​​​​​

This project set a precedent for future HPA work. It was the inception of a commitment to prioritizing the inner life of buildings over their exterior presentation—Robertson House’s new addition is hardly visible from the street. HPA also learned how to create additions to heritage buildings that complement, not overwhelm. The project received awards from the 2001 Wood Design Awards and the 2000 Toronto Architecture & Urban Design Awards.

Project Facts

  • Location

    Toronto, ON

  • Status

    Completed 1998

  • Size

    27,000 Sq. Ft.

  • Partner

  • Client

    City of Toronto Housing and Homelessness Services

Select Awards

  • 2003 – Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Institutional A: (less than $10 million)

  • 2003 – Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Michael V. and Wanda Plachta Award

  • 2001 – Canadian Wood Council Wood Design Awards, Residential Category, Citation

  • Full Awards List

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row1
"[HPA's] work has been translated into a building which we find both sensitive and functional for our organization. In addition, the restorations to the historical buildings were executed with an understanding of our organizational requirements as well as a need to preserve our history and the beauty of the buildings. In many ways the outcome exceeded our expectations."
–Christine Watt, Former Manager, Robertson House
"[HPA's] work has been translated into a building which we find both sensitive and functional for our organization. In addition, the restorations to the historical buildings were executed with an understanding of our organizational requirements as well as a need to preserve our history and the beauty of the buildings. In many ways the outcome exceeded our expectations."
–Christine Watt, Former Manager, Robertson House

The L-shaped addition that wraps the south and east boundaries of the site was seamlessly integrated to incorporate the newly renovated historic houses to the west.

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row2

The L-shaped addition that wraps the south and east boundaries of the site was seamlessly integrated to incorporate the newly renovated historic houses to the west.

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row3
RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row4A
RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row4B

Communal facilities—child care, dining, and residents’ lounge—are organized around a central, protected garden courtyard. Overlooked by the second floor residents and open to the first floor communal areas, the courtyard fosters connection and transparency with play areas and social spaces.

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row5

Communal facilities—child care, dining, and residents’ lounge—are organized around a central, protected garden courtyard. Overlooked by the second floor residents and open to the first floor communal areas, the courtyard fosters connection and transparency with play areas and social spaces.

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row6A

A welcoming, circular story room is lit from above by a featured skylight. 

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row6B

A welcoming, circular story room is lit from above by a featured skylight. 

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row7

The Robertson House is a space that fosters the care and growth of women and their children, supporting families in their transition back into the community. With 37 private residences and communal eating and gather rooms, this space provides a sense of security and promotes a supportive community.

The Robertson House is a space that fosters the care and growth of women and their children, supporting families in their transition back into the community. With 37 private residences and communal eating and gather rooms, this space provides a sense of security and promotes a supportive community.

RobertsonHouseCrisisCentre Row8

Select Awards

  • 2003 – Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Institutional A: (less than $10 million)

  • 2003 – Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) Michael V. and Wanda Plachta Award

  • 2001 – Canadian Wood Council Wood Design Awards, Residential Category, Citation

  • Full Awards List