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Over the past two decades Winnipeg has seen a decline in the number of rooming houses in the city’s core area as wealthier people are again moving downtown and re-converting rooming houses back into individual homes. This disappearance of a problematic housing type has resulted in a large number of poorer and disadvantaged adults having no viable housing alternatives.

We worked with social housing groups and the community-at-large to explore how this evolving demand might be satisfied in a way that would give greater dignity, privacy and sense of control to these disadvantaged members of our society.

The target goals we established were for fully self-contained units for each resident, with individual access to each unit’s front door with no shared vestibules, corridors nor stairs.

Construction costs were kept extremely low in order to assure that welfare allowance for accommodation would be able to provide self-sustaining cash flow to the project.

A focus of planning was to provide spacious accommodation within a minimal unit area (220 sq. ft.) developing simple and legible spatial relationships and generous extended views to local streets and lanes.

(Note that parking spaces are provided for rental to project neighbours, and the income generated for this rent is an important revenue for the project’s pro forma.)

Pocket Suites:

  • a pilot initiative for the development of social housing focussing on low-income, working individuals
  • 4 sites in neighbourhoods in Winnipeg’s core area
  • each project has eight self-contained units
  • all sites are infill lots in neighbourhoods with primarily single family homes
  • all sites have close proximity to public transit and basic amenities
  • 32 suites, approximately 220 square feet each
  • each suite has its own exterior entrance, kitchen, and private washroom
  • special emphasis is placed on the independence, dignity, and control that the design affords the tenants
  • Pocket Suites are now being developed in Regina, and initiatives are underway in Prince Albert and Hamilton