What makes a good aged care facility? Is it the amenities? Or does it come down to the service provided for the elderly residents?These elements are certainly important in order for an aged care facility to function, but Jackson Teece believes that what makes an aged care facility stand out from the crowd is its design quality and 'aesthetic appeal'.
It is why their 2015 Paling Court facility, built by Grindley, was a finalist in the 2016 Think Brick Awards in the masonry category for its “deinstitutionalised” design and environment.
Aged Care Facility Up For Architecture Award]Paling Court is a residential aged care facility for Carrington Care in Camden, Sydney. It houses 126 rooms with associated back-of- house facilities and a basement car park. The design provides views of the surroundings are maximised and spaces enjoy ample natural light.
The materials palette is consistent with the local urban morphology and contributes to the facility’s domestic aesthetic. Concrete blocks were selected for both the external façade and the internal finishes in the public spaces. Dark block defines the private residential rooms while a lighter block was used for public areas and two spines of the building. The concrete blocks reference the freestanding standing houses in the area and have depth in their materiality. The blocks were laid in full- and half-height courses, creating a visual rhythm throughout the building.
Residents of Paling Court enjoy spectacular sweeping views of the rural setting while enjoying a comprehensive leisure and lifestyle program, an onsite kiosk, pharmacy and the provision of high quality meals.
The facility features open plan lounge rooms with spacious balcony areas, an impressive open air courtyard, dining rooms and beautifully designed sitting areas that are perfect for family gatherings as well as access to a reflection room, hairdressing salon, GP and physiotherapy clinic.
When Paling Court entered the Think Brick awards competition, Think Brick Australia CEO Elizabeth McIntyre said Paling Court Residential Aged Care Facility was made special by how it takes the concept of aged care into a new space – one that feels less like a hospital or institution and instead into a space that is more like a resort that is inviting and homely.
"This was achieved by utilising clever design and a thoughtful use of building materials to create beauty, a modern feel, while still remaining consistent with its surroundings," she said.
"Paling Court is a good example of using masonry in an innovative and contemporary way. In texturing, different colours of block, coursing bands and various sizes, an interesting façade was created.”
Jackson Teece Design Director Damian Barker said the key design concepts for Paling Court focused on breaking down a large facility to make it more legible and familiar to residents, and integrating the building into both a woodland setting and a heritage precinct.
"The care model adopted and the building form concepts worked together to create a deinstitutionalised environment which encouraged a relaxed domestic character, similar to a well-designed apartment complex or resort environment, based on a courtyard style design using three courtyards as ordering devices," he said.
"We eliminated double loaded corridors and created wings of rooms oriented around these generous courtyards.
"This way the bedrooms look outwards to the bush and access ways to rooms and functional spaces all overlooked garden courtyards.
"We were also fortunate that the site is in woodland in Camden so we capitalised on the natural beauty of the site."The central entry courtyard was open and focused on an existing Grasmere cottage was reused for community use and the common facilities, entry and pharmacy. The site was also located adjacent to, and incorporated, heritage structures of various scales.
"Our building needed to work harmoniously with these buildings and yet be recognisably new and residential in character," Mr Barker said.
"The use of masonry was important in providing familiarity to some of the residents and to make a positive reference to the heritage buildings without being derivative. The use of coloured block masonry in innovative ways also helped us to break down the scale of the large footprint buildings."Residential wings were dark toned blocks while more public areas were light toned blocks to enhance legibility and to reduce the scale of the overall building.
Further detailed initiatives included using different coursing bands with various sized blocks and quoining at corners where blocks were cut to create a more polished effect enhancing the corners at windows and doors. This created interest in the facade introducing a fine grain pattern and also provided a positive reference to the original building on site, Carrington House which used stone quoining within brick masonry walls.
"As often the last residence many occupants will inhabit in their lifetime, we are responsible for creating as comfortable and enjoyable an environment as possible," Mr Barker said.
"Residents who are less mobile, and in some cases virtually immobile, are totally reliant on the care they receive and the quality of their domestic environment for their physical and mental wellbeing.
"We noticed that one often finds residents in the lobby of facilities because they like the activity of seeing people interact and often the lounge spaces within facilities are depressing with few redeeming features.
"We try and place people spaces at our entrances, like cafes, or spots for people to meet and relax to encourage this interaction."
Jackson Teece put themselves in a resident's shoes and applied a series of questions to their thought process in order to achieve the best design: