3 Senior Living Projects That Showcase International Innovation

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There is plenty of innovation in architecture and design occurring in the U.S.-based senior living industry. The same is true across the globe.

Forward-thinking architecture and design concepts were on display in three projects submitted to the 2023 Senior Housing News Architecture and Design Awards: Royal View by Auria Senior Living, Kunz Raubenheimer Architects and Mike Buyskes Construction in Johannesburg, South Africa; Revera Hollyburn House, by Revera Retirement Living, Kasian Architecture, Interior Design and Planning and Scott Constructions, in West Vancouver, Canada; and Guildwood Retirement Residences by Chartwell Retirement Residences, Michael Spaziani Architect Inc. and Collaborative Structures Limited in Ontario, Canada.

Each entry took a unique design to their approach, whether it was the introduction of modern contemporary architecture, biophilic design principles or embracing local architecture to make better uses of space.

First place: Royal View by Aria Senior Living

Completed Jan. 6, 2023, the Royal View by Aria Senior Living comprises apartments of “various configurations with sweeping views” overlooking the Royal Johannesburg Golf Course.

The community’s designers utilized contemporary architecture stylings to create a sense of space in the densely populated residential zone where the Royal View community is located.

“The development floats above the most beautiful golf course and creates a sense of wanting to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” the document states. “Now that the development is operational, we are delighted to see residents readily spilling onto the golf course, walking daily, and enjoying nature.”

The community has a variety of features for residents and offerings the general public can utilize as well, highlighted by recreational areas that “flow onto a deck overlooking the 13th green” of the neighboring golf course. In those areas, residents can grab a coffee, enjoy fine dining and a full lounge.

Royal View also boasts a fully integrated wellness center and clubhouse are available for the public to utilize for physiotherapy and biokineticists services.

Among the other noted amenities for the assisted living and memory care offerings is the integrated basement parking for residents in an effort to keep residents close to elevators when they need to leave.

“We have ensured careful integration of independent living, the wellness center as well as a full care center with assisted living and dementia care, all on the same property,” the submission states.

Ric D’Amico, senior vice president of Real Estate and Development and judge for the international award category, wrote he was delighted by Royal View’s design of open spaces.

“[They] allowed an abundance of light into the interiors and a natural connection to nature, throughout the environment,” D’Amico wrote. “I also like the redundancy on the exterior facade.”

Fellow judge Melissa Pritchard, managing principal of SFCS Architects, wrote the project is “modern and well executed that connects well to the natural setting of the golf course.”

Second place: Revera Hollyburn House by Revera Retirement Living

Completed Nov. 1, 2022, the renovations at the Revera Hollyburn House in West Vancouver, Canada were needed to better utilize the common areas, with the company noting they were previously “dysfunctional.”

In order to best determine what was needed, Revera Retirement Living formed groups to survey potential residents and stakeholders to “capture the needs of residents and staff through every milestone.”

“As we approached the renovation, it was critical to embody the local architecture, culture and landscape,” the document states.

The leading inspiration for the renovated building came from the nearby Lions Gate Bridge, and incorporated etched bridge cable patterns in the millwork and columns. Inspiration also came from the surrounding countryside, leading to carpet inspired by “old-growth forest floor,” a post-prohibition secret door leading to the dining room, and other carpets inspired by sand and ocean tones to capture the nearby beaches.

In order to meet the resident demand for more interaction opportunities, the renovations included opened floor plans and created “intimate gathering areas” within the space. Additionally, access, flow and utilization were all improved once the renovations were completed.

“Renovations have cultivated new life in the lobby and lounge areas as Hollyburn House staff and residents continue to thrive in their renewed space,” the document states. “With the West Vancouver culture now woven throughout the design, communal areas are a daily draw for residents and families.”

D’Amico noted his appreciation of the hospitality program and a seamless transition between public spaces gives the community very high marks.

Pritchard noted she appreciated the improvements and the intent to connect with nature, though noted the dining results were still on the dark and heavy side.

Third place: Guildwood Retirement Services by Chartwell Retirement Services

With the project completed Jan. 17, 2022, the Guildwood Retirement Services community sought to be a “beacon of innovation and thoughtful design.” 

To do that, the Chartwell community’s design team incorporated elements of biophilic design by utilizing inspiration from the natural world, green roof plantings, a connection to the surrounding history and offering rooftop views.

“Characterized by its clean lines, organic color palette and love for different materials, the Chartwell Guildwood pays homage to this iconic design era,” the document states.

A standout feature for the luxury community is its rooftop lounge, which features “panoramic views” of Lake Ontario. Additionally, the community has a spa with a heated indoor pool along with a fitness center to “cater to holistic wellness.”

Alongside the community’s craftsmanship, it boasts mid-century modern elements to offer a “unique, nostalgic and contemporary style.”

The reception to the community has reportedly been positive, and it opened with a lease rate of 97%.

Cost information was not available for this project.

D’Amico wrote the project was impressive with a “great design intent that is visible in the final project,” though he noted he found the main entry sequence to be “stark and non-welcoming.”

Pritchard noted she also wasn’t keen on the entry sequence, but the integration of the surrounding community was well done.

“Once within the building the use of a very wide color palette, the choice of materials and the texture created by the interior team is outstanding,” Pritchard wrote.

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