Healthcare test-bed: Mornington Centre by Billard Leece
We are not foolproof: designing to assist with accessibility

The below commentary is courtesy of aged care facility Jeta Gardens, and international architecture practice ThomsonAdsett  who designed the facility and masterplan for the Queensland site.

When complete, the $600 million development will include a private hospital, international training college, and additional retirement and aged care housing.

The need for flexibility and diversity in architecture is on the rise, alongside Australia’s increasing multiculturalism.

Australian architects can no longer rely on a one-size-fits-all model, with seniors, in particular, demanding more culturally appropriate designs.

Queensland-based aged care facility Jeta Gardens, offers a high level of care to all residents, irrespective of religious or cultural differences.

Jeta Gardens Founder and Managing Director Choe Lam Tan says Australia’s multiculturalism is often forgotten in architecture.

“No one can deny the fact that Australia is a country of migrants,” he says. “Architecture in the aged care market doesn’t often address the needs of different cultures and religions.

“We are in the business of feelings and there is no greater human connection than one’s culture.”

ThomsonAdsett Managing Director Chris Straw says the practice’s long history of working in Asia has provided experience that will become increasingly relevant in Australia.

“We’ve worked in the global market for almost 20 years now, so we really understand how to design for different cultures and religions,” Straw says.

“Observing different faiths in aged care facilities can be a very difficult adjustment for residents.

“We want to make the process as seamless as possible, so residents can live a similar, if not better, lifestyle.”

Chinese Lake Gardens at Jeta Gardens

The practice explains they designed Jeta Gardens to suit a variety of religious and spiritual needs.

Spaces including prayer and ablution rooms, needed to be flexible for use by both Muslims and Buddhists, while remaining warm and homely.

Bench heights, layout design and operational functions were all considered in the design stage to support residents’ different needs.

“The importance of designing interiors that respect cultural diversity is only going to increase,” Straw says.

“In architecture, we have to think about the needs and values of the people we’re designing for – the residents.

“These people come from different countries, different cultures and they have different beliefs.

“We’re going to run into trouble over the coming years if architects don’t start considering this in their designs.”

Tan says Jeta Gardens inclusive “one happy family” concept is heavily influenced by eastern values and is the first of its kind in the country, with incorporating the best of both eastern and western making the facility so unique.

“I’ve fused Asian values of treating parents like gold, with the Australian Health system,” Tan claims.


Images: Jeta Gardens