Downtown Eastside jail undergoing conversion into 96 social housing units

211 Gore Social Housing

The former Petrial Services Centre, or remand centre, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is being repurposed into 96 units of social housing.

The building at 211 Gore Avenue was originally designed by Henriquez Partners Architects and completed in 1981 to serve as a detention centre for prisoners awaiting trial. Since 2002, the facility has been sitting unused and a decision was made in 2011 to transform the facility into a social housing project, with the assistance from its original architectural firm.

Concrete window pods were installed into the building to act as sleeping alcoves for prisoners.
211 Gore Social Housing
Image: Google Streetview

Given that the building is no longer in need of its security elements, the new social housing design sees the jail cells demolished and 95 bright, airy residential units built in their place.

Large windows will replace the series of concrete pods on the main façade that once served as bed alcoves for prisoners. Spandrel glass will recreate the rhythm of the pods in the window wall, while the slabs separating the pods will be filled in to create a more sophisticated unit layout.

View from Gore Avenue.
211 Gore Social Housing
Image: Henriquez Partners Architects

What was once a gymnasium for inmates will be turned into shared amenity space and a convenience kitchen for the residents. Each floor will have access to roof decks, common lounges, and laundry rooms.

An exercise yard will be transformed into a community garden with vegetable and flowerbeds. The second and third storey residential units will be reserved for participants of BladeRunners, an employment-training program for at-risk youth.

This unique 36,000 square foot housing project will be operated by the The Bloom Group Community Services Society. Its construction is funded by both non-profit and government partners at a cost of $13-million.

View from Powell Street.
211 Gore Social Housing
Image: Henriquez Partners Architects

Source/Images: Henriquez Partners Architects

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