Ronald McDonald House BC (RMHBC) provides a home for BC and Yukon families with children receiving primarily cancer treatment at BC Children’s Hospital. From the outset, the design team sought to create a solution that would feel like a home and not a hotel. The architect’s ambition was to preserve the nurturing, closely-bonded social connection found in the former RMHBC 12-family house with the design of this new 73-family facility. The design focused on inclusiveness and community building spatial design.
The site, located on the edge of the Hospital, borders a suburban-scale residential neighbourhood. The architecture bridges the relationship between the quiet residential fabric and the institutional architecture of the Hospital. The building forms are intentionally accessible and driven by modesty, endurance and a warm aesthetic. The architect designed the facility in iron-spot brick to durably protect a highly innovative structure of mass timber walls and light wood floor construction. The LEED Gold + performance of the building is enhanced by a carbon-neutral embodied footprint.
The design layers space to help families find both solace and community as they go through one of the most significant and challenging moments of life with their severely sick child. The design breaks down into four ‘Houses’ stitched together with common areas; dining rooms, living rooms and courtyards to help families adjust to the scale of their new community of families. Each house provides its own identity, with interior color and wayfinding devices suitable to the diverse ages and backgrounds of sick kids from toddlers to teens. An internal ground level ‘house loop’ connects all communal areas, from inside to outside to inside again. Space is arranged to enhance shared-parenting opportunities with courtyards wrapped with living and dining rooms to contain toddlers and increasingly independent play space for increasingly older children further from the heart of the building.