An Australian design firm ThomsonAdsett has just been ranked the No. 1 architect in the world for ‘Elderly Living’ by UK magazine Building Design. Their latest World Architecture 100 survey, which covers 1,400 practices around the world, also named ThomsonAdsett as ‘One to Watch’ for 2018.
Headed by Chris Straw and David Lane, they’re proving that villages and aged care homes are shedding their ‘daggy’ design reputation. Straw said the practice continues to conceive new and innovative ways to tackle the challenges of an ageing population. They were also the first in the Southern Hemisphere to install the Finnish-made Elsi Smart Floor system, which uses sensor technology to detect falls. ThomsonAdsett has delivered over 2,000 ‘seniors’ projects around the world. They also deliver health projects like Singapore Hospital.
Designed to be a social space that is still friendly to the less mobile, its fittings and artworks have been chosen to appeal to its art-loving residents.
In their aged care projects, the focus is on shaking off the ‘institutional’ feel of traditional facilities.
Their design for Elizabeth Jenkins Place in Sydney sets seven houses, each with 18 residents, around a central hub. This communal design encourages residents to stay active while making it easy for staff and families to interact. The design is heavily focused on residents, leaving all administrative and catering areas as back-of-house, and located away from communal hubs.
These designs emphasizes the move towards appealing to their resident’s interests and lifestyles prior to moving into villages or care. Chris Straw believes that Integrated Communities may be “Neighbourhood of the Future”
He writes “Savvy and empathetic operators are realising that to stay relevant and viable as well as useful into the future, the current collocated model of traditional nursing home and distinct Independent Living Units (ILUs) of itself will not be a sustainable model going forward. A whole new way of considering what their service offer is and how it is delivered is required. A hospitality focus model rather than a care focus model is likely to be the way of the future. Integrated Communities by name are not seeking to create seniors exclusive enclaves. They are in fact embracing the ageing bias of the population and establishing platforms for seniors to live out their lives in a creative, meaningful and contributing way. Some of these communities will be targeted at specific niches such as ethnic or interest groups. Others will be looking to attract a true cross section of society… Integrated communities for seniors are not the magic bullet to solving the world’s ageing issue on their own but rather they form one creative solution with long term benefits and sustainability. Best of all, they are being driven by non-government providers of aged care who are committed to meeting the future needs of older Australians. In so doing, they are quietly re-writing policy without the need for esoteric debate in parliaments. Now, isn’t that refreshing?”
Will these ideas make it across the ditch? We will have to wait and see!