Affordable Housing

YWCA Supportive Housing

Type: Residential

Address: Kitchener, Ontario

YWKW Supportive Housing

Multi-Unit Residential

YW Kitchener-Waterloo’s 41-unit supportive housing project received funding from the Federal Government’s Rapid Housing Initiative (which requires that design and construction be completed within a tight 12-month window, as well as being prefabricated modular construction). The 4-storey, multi-residential 23,000 sq. ft. building provides a safe and secure place for women who have experienced homelessness. These units come with wraparound support services for residents, including case and crisis management, daily life skills, and more.

Element5 worked closely with Edge Architects to design and develop an optimized CLT (cross-laminated timber) grid based on our St. Thomas manufacturing plant’s production specs. Some specific features of the design include:

  • Modular construction through mass timber CLT and Glulam prefabrication
  • CLT floors, roof, demising walls between units, exterior walls, elevator shafts and stairwells
  • Glulam beams and columns were used on the ground floor entrance area
  • Exposure of mass timber surfaces inside the building to impart a sense of warmth and well-being.

Manufacturing efficiencies Helped Drive Down Cost

The optimized design and modular construction approach generated cost savings that enabled the mass timber solution to beat out numerous other ‘affordable’ designs during the bid process. The decision to use prefabricated mass timber components for both the structure and building envelope significantly reduced the construction schedule – the completion of design, approvals AND construction all occurred within 1 year of contract award, and the building itself was fully assembled in just 20 days.

This modular delivery method, where building components are factory-built and then rapidly assembled on site, offers cost savings over a strictly site-built project. Based on the success of this project, plans and designs were undertaken for a 2nd building on the same site – YWCA Building 2.

Awards Won

  • Sustainable Kitchener Award – 2023“, given to a project that demonstrates innovation and exceptional design with respect to sustainable development, water conservation, energy conservation and generation, air quality, waste reduction and management, supporting active transportation and transit-oriented development.
  • 2023 Ontario Wood WORKS! Design Winner – honours design excellence, advocacy, and innovation, are advancing the use of wood in all types of construction.

About YWCA Supportive Housing

Architect / Designer

Kitchener, ON


YWKW Subsidiary of YWCA


Full engineering for timber above grade, supply and installation of the mass timber structure including stairwells and elevator core, design, supply and assembly of timber connections.


MTE Consultants (Civil Engineer)

Melloul-Blamey Construction (General Contractor)

Assembly team

Contract Framing

Products used

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