When LDK Healthcare, Cromwell Property and Gray Puksand converted a former government office building in Canberra into aged care they presented new possibilities for senior Australians.
Gray Puksand partner Kevin Miles says Canberra is ripe for adaptive reuse because of the high number of old government buildings.
“Given the ageing of our population, and location of some under-utilised buildings, it makes sense to give them new life with a seniors’ focus.”
The low-slung three-storey buildings proved perfect candidates for the change of use. The organic layout of separate blocks meant some could be dedicated to social activity, while internal courtyards and existing auditorium space could be retained.
Maria Correia, Gray Puksand’s director of interior design, says several factors determine whether a conversion from commercial to seniors’ living is viable. This includes ceiling heights, distribution of internal air, accessibility for ambulances and how easy it is to incorporate health and wellbeing amenity.
Designers consider “the ability to create a community, the outlook for the residents – whether it be overlooking a garden or a city view – and the ability to make it feel like home,” Correia says.
“While the structure of the existing building is integral, interior design also plays a huge role in transforming environments and, in the case of Greenway Views, colour is a big factor in creating more personable spaces.”
Gray Puksand’s design uses colours that minimise dementia agitation and help residents to navigate the buildings, while a bespoke aesthetic of brass detailing, marble, polished concrete, timber and luxurious carpet tiles have created a distinctive feel.
According to the World Green Building Council, embodied carbon in existing buildings is responsible for 11 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Miles says adaptive reuse projects like Greenway Views is a sustainable solution, as it retains the embodied energy in existing assets.
“For those landlords that have, perhaps, C-grade assets, we really should be thinking about new ways they can be used that genuinely will meet market demand and the needs of society,” Miles concludes.