LGA transforms warehouse into community for homeless youths in Toronto

Canadian firm LGA Architectural Partners has created a neighbourhood within an old Toronto industrial building, to provide accommodation for homeless young people.

Eva's Phoenix by LGA Architectural Partners

Eva’s is a nonprofit initiative that provides shelter and educational facilities for homeless youth in the city. For the latest of its three residences, LGA Architectural Partners consulted with Canadian agency ERA Architects to revamp the heritage-designated Phoenix building that was leased from the city.

Originally a 1930s waterworks warehouse, the brick structure was transformed into a fully-enclosed residential complex with white walls, polished concrete pathways and splashes of pastel colours.

Eva's Phoenix by LGA Architectural Partners

The roof was replaced with sloping windows to create a light-filled interior that resembles a greenhouse.

“A portion of the budget was allocated to future-proofing the building, creating a strong foundation that can be altered by the organisation with basic construction strategies to meet changing needs over time,” said LGA.

Eva's Phoenix by LGA Architectural Partners

Accommodation is divided up between a series of communal blocks, each designed to look like a typical townhouse. Each house is outfitted with a kitchen, a living area and a bathroom. All together, they provide 50 bedrooms.

“These houses face onto an internal street – which serves as a gathering place for the Eva’s community,” said the firm. “The layering of spaces builds comfort by giving the youth the choice to decide their own level of integration.”

Eva's Phoenix by LGA Architectural Partners

Above the homes, but still under the building’s roof, are terraces for relaxing and socialising. Other communal spaces include a demonstration kitchen and a full-service commercial print shop.

“This is a project that’s all about doing the right thing – for the kids, the neighbourhood and the city,” said LGA co-founder Dean Goodman. “It’s architecture that results from will and collaboration – between the Eva’s community, the design and construction teams, and also the councillor and the planning department.”

Eva's Phoenix by LGA Architectural Partners

Eva’s Phoenix won a Design Excellence Award earlier this year from Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) and has become a model for homeless facilities across Canada.

Similar projects elsewhere include The Six in downtown LA, Richard Rogers’ prefabricated housing in London and Peter Barber’s Victorian-style hostel.

Photography is by Ben Rahn/A-Frame.

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