Aged care providers can reduce their build time and environmental footprint by adapting buildings meant for another purpose, stakeholders tell Australian Ageing Agenda.
Adapting existing buildings for a new purpose has environmental benefits over starting fresh, says Maria Correia, director of interior design at Australian architectural firm Gray Puksand.
Instead of creating a new building, you can reuse the spaces and buildings you have,
“You reuse the city you’ve got, you reuse the spaces you have, you reuse the buildings and actually don’t create a new community,” Ms Correia told AAA.
This adaptive reuse approach is popular and necessary in many countries, she said.
“I spent a lot of time working in Europe and in particular London, and that in those cities, you don’t just knock down buildings and start from scratch. Some of them have been there for years and years so you learn to work within those parameters.”
Gray Puksand collaborated on a project with aged care provider LDK Healthcare and real estate investment company Cromwell Property Group to transform five former Department of Social Services building blocks into the Greenway Views Seniors Living facility in Tuggeranong in the ACT.
The first stage of the project opened in early 2020 with three of the blocks repurposed to create a new seniors living village with 210 apartments, onsite aged care teams and dining and recreational facilities.
LDK Healthcare director Steve Browne said reusing an existing building provided the organisation time and sustainability benefits.
“Without having to knock down and rebuild, we were able to bring the project to market quicker and with less environmental impact,” Mr Browne told AAA.
The idea to adapt an existing building came about when the provider was looking to expand, he said.
“We had been wanting to expand within the Canberra market and Cromwell happened to have this property that had been designed with consideration to future adaptive reuse for seniors living so it all aligned,” Mr Browne said.
Location is key
The site was ideal site to convert into a seniors living village including because of its proximity to local amenities, such as a bowling club opposite, and internal features like high ceilings, Ms Correia said.
“The fact that you had individual blocks naturally lends itself so that you could concentrate specific services within each block,” she said.
“We had to relook at all the balconies because the balconies weren’t compliant. And there were other internal things we had to do, but the bones of the building really lent itself to an aged care facility.”
The seniors living facility welcomed its first residents in February 2020 with facilities including a restaurant, bar with piano and snooker table, café, theatre and gardens.
The village offers ageing-in-place independent living with access to round-the-clock on-site care teams if and when residents need it.
Mr Browne said second phase of the project will see the addition of another 117 apartments and is expected to be completed in January next year and reach full occupancy by April 2022.
Mr Browne “would definitely recommend adaptive reuse for seniors living” but “it is important to take on a project like this with eyes wide open,” he added.
“It will take longer and cost more than you anticipate. The most important thing to remember is to not try and cut costs on the fit out. Gray Puksand was able to create something that resonates with people.”
The second stage of the project includes an additional 117 apartments and is expected to be completed in January next year.
Main image: LDK Healthcare’s Greenway Views Seniors Living facility.