2 View St, The Ponds
“Appropriate planning and design can achieve spaces that honour the ageing process in a safe and inclusive way.”
We were engaged by Anglicare in 2014, in collaboration with Calder Flower Architects for the construction of a residential aged care facility. This project was in addition to already constructed independent living units within a new Western Sydney suburb, The Ponds. Specifically addressing dementia requirements, the design housed 7 connected wings, with 104 beds, surrounded by extensive gardens.
We were guided by a brief that wanted to support ageing in an inclusive, safe and comfortable environment. We achieved this, by integrating practical dementia design principles with a residential colour palette. The result was a community space, which was soft and sympathetic to the needs and wants of its residents, visiting family and friends.
Understanding the importance of physical and social engagement, we designed and completed a unique communal space to be used and enjoyed by residents of The Ponds. Inspired by a London High Street, we playfully incorporated a range of colours to create a ‘neighbourhood’. The distinctive colours also reinforce the individual identity of each house and promote independence through visual cues.
Research suggests that older people are generally familiar with a collection of local shops that they would regularly visit, so the streetscape was designed to reflect this in order to encourage a feeling of familiarity and trigger memories. This is especially important for residents with dementia as it positively impacts their behaviour and social interaction.
Our greatest challenge was to create an enabling environment that maintained the resident’s independence, whilst creating a warm, non-clinical and residential feel. We addressed this by tailoring the interior to cater for the residents first – so that the primary perception is of home and the care is a seamless and welcome backdrop rather than the dominant experience.
For example; the ‘wave’ ceiling in the large central lounge area acts as a ‘spine’ to the entire building. With a ceiling height of 5m, the wave ceiling sits lightly in the space and allows an abundance of natural light to flood in. Constructed with acoustic perforated panels in a timber veneer, the wave ceiling is not only a design feature but adds a sense of warmth and visual interest to the space. Integration of innovative dementia accommodating aids such as distinctive signage, door handles and changing colour schemes also serve as wayfinding assists.
The Ponds has had an overwhelmingly positive and calming effect on its residents. The open, common areas support social interaction and community building. This has led to a significant decrease in behavioural incidences as residents feel a greater sense of belonging. It is also deliberately designed to feel welcoming for family and friends.This project successfully demonstrates how appropriate planning and design can achieve spaces that honour the ageing process in a safe and inclusive way.
Calder Flower Architects
Maria Barlow & Trina Kazi
Geoff Ambler Photography
Aged Care Design