Designing for aged care is an area of architecture that is undergoing a significant shift. Gone are the days of aged care facilities being designed to look like hospitals, adorned with lino floors and fluorescent lights. Modern aged care facilities are designed to inspire the best possible quality of life for aged residents, and to look - and feel - like home. Spaces full of natural light, biophilic finishes and integrated access between interiors and exteriors are becoming commonplace across the new generation of aged care facilities - something Jackson Teece Architects kept front of mind in their design for Anglicare Woolooware Shores.

“There are lots of things to take into account in any aged care design,” says Damian Barker, Principal at Jackson Teece. “For example, dealing with dementia patients. They often require immediate, easy access to external environments, landscape, and open spaces. So that’s obviously challenging if you got a multi storey building, but it’s absolutely necessary to work hard with your external spaces, and create that access wherever possible.”

That flowing indoor-outdoor integration is crucial to designing aged care spaces that feel light and airy, and more like a hoe than a hospital. “It’s really about de-institutionalising the buildings and adding a sense of soul,’ says Nik Dunoski, Associate at Jackson Teece. “So it could be something like staying away from cool white lighting and using warm white light because it’s more familiar for people - and I recently spoke with someone who said a significant cost in aged care is the dispensation of sleeping pills, because cool white light actually interferes with people's circadian rhythms and keeps them awake. So we think about that sort of thing, all the way through to deinstitutionalising the nurse stations, so they don’t look like a traditional nurse station where it's a nurse in a white room behind the glass screen, and are far more inviting and less intimidating.”

So, what about the sun? The health benefits of natural light are well documented and beyond reproach, so how is natural light integrated at Woolooware Shores? “In terms of our apartment buildings on this site, we work really, really hard while planning to make sure that every single apartment achieves some direct sunlight into their living area at midwinter,” says Nik. “So we managed to come up with a design that ensures that every single apartment gets direct sunlight. And I think that that's a massive sustainability-positive aspect of this particular project.”

In order to bring their vision of flowing natural light and integrated indoor-outdoor living to life, Jackson Teece had to explore custom door solutions. They needed sliding glass doors which could be tailored to the specific sizes of the apartments while also retaining the sleek luxury aesthetic that would define the Woolooware Shores precinct. It was with this brief that Alspec created a custom, single extrusion aluminium door solution for the project.

The doors house both glazed glass panes and flyscreens, making them simple to operate for people of varied mobility levels. To provide ease of access, the sills of the frames sit flush with the floor to reduce tripping hazard. The doors also feature self-draining subsills to ensure that any surface water is quickly and safely drained to reduce slipping hazards in wet weather. 

But aside from functionality, the doors provide the apartments with a free flowing interactivity between the balcony or courtyard spaces, with the net effect that the spaces feel more like a luxury getaway than an aged care facility. For Jackson Teece, the doors capped off another successful, sustainable design that exceeded client expectations. For the residents, they enable an improved quality of life within a beautiful environment.

This article is a short summary of the Talking Architecture & Design Podcast episode 73. Listen to the full Podcast Episode with Damian Barker & Nik Dunoski from Jackson Teece Architects here.