Architecture considerations for the aged

Multiple Houses beside an open space

The intention of senior living homes and facilities is to provide spaces that support seniors’ lifestyle and life stage and encourage personal and community health and wellness. They must also be places that the aged can still call home.

There are specific architectural considerations to make when designing housing for the aged from legislative, council and design perspectives.

The aged housing landscape in NSW

Around 16.2% of Australians are aged 65 and over. The NSW Government made planning provisions for senior housing through the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021 (SEPP).

Exterior view of the houses and a street

According to the State Government’s website, the policy ensures that seniors’ housing meets industry standards and community expectations.

It defines senior living criteria, including areas where senior housing can be developed, the age seniors are eligible for senior housing (60), parameters for the internal and external living and communal spaces and residential zones where senior housing may be established.

For some sites on the North Shore and Northern Beaches area, strict bushfire evacuation risk parameters are also in place that are in bushfire zones and/or biodiversity-zoned land areas. SEPP Seniors are generally excluded from these sites and/or development is restricted.

How the SEPP program works

The program gives developers an incentive that overrides some local planning restrictions to construct suitable dwellings that meet particular criteria.

Access to local amenities and adequate safety measures are some of these criteria. Our architects at Playoust Churcher place comfort and convenience at the top of the list too.

The SEPP Seniors Code makes it possible to build 2-storey medium-density style residences in areas that permit detached houses only.

It also makes it possible to build single level villa style townhouses or units land zoned for urban purposes (provided the original block is larger than 1000 square metres), has a frontage of 20m or more and is within 400m of public transport.

Designing for the aged

Designing for the aged requires a unique approach.

“A house must feel like a home,” says our MD, Brett Churcher.

Its really no different designing a SEPP Seniors home to designing a new home for a younger family, in that the principles of living – being good passive solar design, flow of internal spaces to the outside, the ability to entertain extended family etc., remain the same”.

Senior housing dwellings are designed to support everyday living, provide comfort and boost a sense of community. They need to be designed in a way that can deliver physical and emotional support to seniors and people living with a disability.

Sustainability, open-plan living with ample space, sloped floors instead of stairs and walk-in showers with no hob are some design considerations when designing senior housing.

“We place a large focus on the indoor/outdoor relationship and make sure there is a good flow between the modern kitchen, meals and living spaces. An outdoor, covered courtyard or terrace is also important when designing senior housing.”

We are the experts on Sydney SEPP Seniors living. We can look at any block of land and assess the feasibility of a project by determining the highest and best use. And we have decades of design experience to create a bespoke boutique development that will deliver you a solid return. So, if you’re a developer looking for a solid return, contact us to start the conversation.


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