YW Hub: Creating a safe sanctuary for Calgary’s women in need
Within the welcoming neighbourhood of Inglewood in southeast Calgary stands a safe haven for women: a place to transition from crisis to stability; a place to access vital community support and services; a place of empowerment; a place to call home. The new state-of-the-art YW Hub facility is the operational centre for YW Calgary, the largest women’s association in the city ― serving those in need for over a century.
Following a competitive RFP process, Kasian was chosen to design the new YW Hub Facility. As the project was focused on supporting women and their families, we assembled a female-led project team and created the design proposal from a place of passion and empathy. We were selected for our extensive experience in mixed-use design, our collaborative and human-centric approach, and our passion for complex, community-based projects.
When a flood destroyed their existing infrastructure in 2013, the team at the YW saw an opportunity to sell the piece of land and rebuild their organization’s central hub of operations. They envisioned creating a new space that could be embedded within the community, one that would continue to meet the needs of women and their families.
In response to the project’s complex programming and the Inglewood site's unique characteristics, our team worked with the YW to create a facility that was a study in duality: welcoming and private, open and secure, residential and commercial. The facility was homelike, while also a busy hub of activity.
We collaborated extensively with the YW board, external consultants, stakeholders and the community to envision the space and create a sense of shared understanding of the facility. The result was six 'drivers' that inspired and guided the project through every phase of development: well-being, connection, inclusive, beacon, comfortable, and safe.
Rooted in principles of trauma-informed design, we created architecture that allowed the YW to continue to meet the needs of women and their families. The facility supports healing and access to community-based programming and services, provides a supportive and inclusive environment for clients and staff alike, and nurtures opportunities for community involvement and integration.
As the project was constructed, we helped facilitate tours for community members and donors to create fund-development opportunities for future programming.
CEO of YW Calgary
We envisioned a front door that was welcoming for everyone; clients arriving safely after making a life-saving decision for themselves; a bright and invigorating entry for staff; and an inviting place for members of the community to engage with the mission and vision of YW Calgary. With its deep, sheltered overhang, long community bench, warm wood trim and soft curves, the entrance to the YW Hub facility is a gateway to a sanctuary for all. Two other separate entrances permit access to the facility for community childcare and staff.
Upon entering the building, you walk amongst empowering canvas portraits that reflect women of all races, religions, ages and walks of life ― mothers, sisters, wives, friends, and daughters. In collaboration with local artists, a comprehensive art program is woven throughout the building and reflects all the women that the YW serve. Amongst a variety of multi-use spaces on the main floor, a large-community kitchen serves as a social centre with a deck that looks toward the front plaza and beyond. Soft seating and flexible furniture allow users to adjust gathering spaces for their needs. Other program includes childcare, administrative, counseling and training spaces, as well as housing for 100 women in need.
Surrounding these program spaces is the heart of the facility itself – a secure, private outdoor courtyard for building users, clients and staff that visually and physically connect every space of the facility.
The Hub has transformed the YW organization and the surrounding community. Today, the space helps empower thousands of Calgary women and their families.
For us, this integrated project offered an opportunity to grow and professionally develop key members of our team, while contributing our talents to a life-changing organization that does incredibly impactful work.
The YW Hub received the 2019 Mayor’s Urban Design Award for Urban Architecture.
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