The 1980s saw a turning point for people with mental health conditions. Reagan and Thatcher declared that the asylum model was dead. Australia soon followed suit with this idea. But what to do instead? And what could be done with these huge Victorian building complexes? A facility in Toronto, Canada, came up with a great idea, which was quickly copied in South Australia. Jan Golembiewski explains how the place was turned inside out for mental health.
Golembiewski writes a short story about the Toronto experience in the Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health. Similarly to many institutions it took up a considerable amount of land. Urban Strategies won the contract to redevelop the whole site. It involved removing high walls and extending local roads into the site. So, in effect they were turning the facility inside out.
The design incorporated outward facing units which were connected to the urban grid. The open space then became shared space. Patients run a cafe which has some stories to tell according to Golembiewski. He says the people on the street are just a little more colourful. Mental health professionals are ready at hand to keep an eye out generally. The project has turned out to be good for patients and the community.
The title of the article is, Turning the City Inside Out for Mental Health, and the Canadian facility is the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. It’s an easy and interesting read.