The St. John’s Convent and Guest House is a modest build and renovation project in a green precinct next to St John’s Rehab at Sunnybrook Hospital, where many members of the monastic community work.

Inspired by the cloisters of medieval monasteries, the convent is a two-storey structure configured around an enclosed courtyard. Bedrooms are located on both the upper and lower levels to ensure less agile, often elderly, sisters can remain on the ground floor, at the heart of their community, with easy access to shared amenities. Given the Sisterhood’s faith and vow of poverty, there is nothing extraneous in the design; beauty is achieved by privileging the quality and character of light. The chapel features a beechwood-lined, vaulted ceiling with beautiful north-facing stained-glass windows. The double-height refectory, conversely, features generous south facing-windows that bring in ample unfiltered daylight. Throughout the building, primary circulation routes are positioned adjacent to the courtyard so as to enjoy a similarly compelling connection to the outdoors. The only existing building on site, a former nurse’s residences, is adapted to suit the new guest house and connects to the convent via an enclosed, glaze passage. A second, open courtyard is nestled into the resulting L shaped plan.

Given ongoing intensification around the hospital, a mature stand of trees was retained during construction and continues to insulate the convent property. A large earth beam to the north of the building serves as a further buffer from neighbouring noise and traffic.


Completion Date:


Project Type:

Housing & Senior Living

Building Size:

56,600 sq. ft.

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