Providing free mental and behavioral health services for young adults ages 16 to 29, Stella’s Place empowers new skills and provides access to a caring community and programming, including peer support counselling, clinical services, wellness activities, art, and recovery programs. For Stella’s Place, an interdisciplinary young adult consultant design team was purposefully engaged to collaborate with the young adult community being served. Young adult participants, recent graduates of the Stella’s peer-to-peer counselling programs, and staff representatives were involved in every aspect of the design process. The willingness of this young team to explore and test alternative approaches resulted in a design that pushed the boundaries of planning, colour, and material solutions. Diversity, equity, and inclusion were embraced by the young designers and their co-design partners, resulting in a humanistic environment that supports how their peers want to occupy and feel welcome in the new space.
The lobby was designed to give participants the ability to observe the reception and café upon entry and affords them a choice of circumventing the most public spaces or entering directly into them. The new double height volume brings daylight deeper into the floor plate and celebrates the industrial past of the building. Persons regardless of physical abilities and parents with strollers can access all components of the space. A purposefully designed interior ramp with an occupiable landing provides barrier free access and creates a more discreet route into the space.
The café and adjoining kitchenette is open for anyone to use, whether participating in programming or not. Several seating options are provided with some more social, some more private. A combination of curvilinear built-in seating and moveable furniture allows alternative arrangements during events or special programming. A built-in planter in the ramp wall allows for biophilia to be introduced into the common areas.
The teaching kitchen provides an accessible space for group skills and activities of daily living (ADL) training, gatherings, and an opportunity for larger events when connected to the adjacent group room by opening the moveable partition.
Both the level 2 corridor and a group room have floor to ceiling connections to the double height space along the south façade, providing access to daylight and strong visual connections between the floors. These spaces connect to the teaching kitchen through moveable partitions creating a multi-use light-filled shared space.
Deep upholstered built-in seating with accent lighting outside of group rooms allows participants and staff accommodation to step away when needed without disrupting other sessions.
Several larger scale spaces include operable partitions that create acoustical separation to allow more flexibility for the number of group programs that can be facilitated at one time. It was important to maintain the capability of accommodating programming with numerous participants such as yoga and art classes. Playful introductions of color are provided in the acoustic materials and kitchenette tile backsplashes.
A variety of sound absorbing materials and calming and adjustable lighting were used in the one-on-one counseling rooms to create a more intimate space for private conversations. These rooms are located on each floor that the participants can access. With variable room size options, participants are free to choose their favorite room.