Heritage Care commissioned Thexton Smith Architects to design a new aged care facility in Epping. The straightforward brief sought a cost-effective design that was operational, low maintenance and most importantly, warm and welcoming for residents and their guests.

However, the site for the proposed aged care facility was located right in the heart of Northpoint Enterprise Park – a business park that’s home to multiple factories. This overwhelmingly industrial area was surrounded by a beautiful wetland, and was increasingly becoming a community-focused precinct, and health hub, with Epping Medical Centre across the road and Melbourne’s Northern Hospital less than five kilometres away.

Thexton Smith decided to ensure complete harmony between residential use and the industrial zone, while maximising views over the wetland. Epping Gardens is a two-storeyed 148-bed state-of-the-art aged care facility that’s as much at home in a business park, as it is in a residential community.

Since they wanted to keep it warm and inviting, and residential in nature, Nolan Smith, Director and Lead Architect, Thexton Smith said they chose material that would have a nice reference and harmony with the industrial zone.

The materials palette chosen by the architects was mostly industrial and included precast panels and brick inlay for the external façade, weathering steel to the service wing, and generous use of Blackbutt timber both inside and outside, for a softening effect.

While the timber and bricks were quite residential in nature, the precast panels and weathering steel were industrial, said Nolan.

Having decided on a combination of precast panels and face bricks, APM Group and Thexton Smith searched for a time-efficient and cost-effective system to use for this project. APM Group recommended the brick inlay system by Robertson Facade Systems, which had been used by The CPS Group, their precasters, accompanied by Midnight Blue brick tiles for the facade.

The architects loved the brick tile for its appearance while the brick inlay system combined great aesthetics with several benefits. Nolan said the precast panel can be used as an external wall with the brick tiles and still achieve the residential brick look along with advantages such as quality, longevity and fire safety rating.

Most importantly, the feedback on Epping Garden’s design has been exceptionally positive. “Heritage Care is very happy and they’ve had fantastic feedback, themselves,” says Nolan.

Photographer: Steve Young, Young and Percival