A place for assisted living, where the residents can age with dignity.

Ageing in place – the ability to be supported in one single location without the need to undergo the trauma of moving from one environment to another as a resident ages. In the past elders may have moved into a retirement home and then later into an aged care or nursing home, and perhaps after that into a hospital or dementia unit.  The under riding philosophy of the Tanah Merah project is to provide a single location for residents to live independently with dignity, and to have access to support as they age and become frail and their needs increase. Tanah Merah is designed around a central leisure centre which houses both communal resident facilities and administrative and support services.  The project is located on a steep site and required some innovative solutions to provide an efficient circulation system both for residents and operators.  Residents of course need level access – a significant challenge on such a steep site.  Circulation paths are also designed to facilitate the movement of golf buggies for staff and ferrying residents, and also the residents themselves use motorised gophers as they become frail.  All units have external parking spaces and recharge points for gophers. Spaces and functions for spaces are designed to include the resident at all times and encourage a sense of ownership and community to village.  Typically a resident’s club may operate the bar and cover costs with a small margin to add to other projects.  A resident’s lounge adjacent to the library provides both a place to retreat in a semi private space or alternatively participate in the weekly Wii tennis tournament.  At other times residents may enjoy some relaxing music or simply catch up on the latest gossip while enjoying a free coffee from the adjacent coffee shop.  The coffee shop is themed with historical story boards that give residents reminders of the early twentieth century events and local built environment.  The cultural and contextural events of residents in their formative years are important criteria that need to be understood when designing their environment.  A sensitive balance is required to create modern non threatening spaces that reference the formative years. Raised, irrigated vegetable gardens provide stimulating outdoor events and the resident chef often prepares meals made from produce from resident’s garden.  Families are encouraged to visit and children always provide great sources of joy to elderly people.  A playground, picnic area, BBQ and swimming pool encourage children and grandchildren to visit regularly.  Plans are underway for a reputable food franchisor to establish an ice cream bar, definitely a hit with young grandchildren.  Some communal facilities are also available for hire to the community that again encourages diversity and integrates the aged community into our regular lives. Social engagement, dignity and pride are central philosophies, and design solutions respond to the operator’s requirements to place the resident and support first.  This process turns the traditional medical model of “doctor knows best” upside down.

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