Jewish Care’s Healthy Connections Sustain Seniors Wellbeing
For older people who live independently in their own homes, maintaining relationships with their community is vital. When Jewish Care engaged DesignInc Melbourne to develop their new Anne and Eric Smorgon Active Living Centre in Caulfield, Melbourne, the brief sought a ‘connection centre’ that would enrich the lives of their community.
DesignInc has responded with a building that welcomes the community for casual visits, exercise, and meeting friends. The central focus of the architecture is to forge stronger connections between people in spaces that offer a range of social and recreational activities, cultural and spiritual services, and therapies that enhance wellbeing, health and independence.
The building design celebrates the diversity of Jewish culture and its multifaceted identity through the use of woven patterns that are symbolic of people and nature. The dynamic motif features throughout the interior, reproduced at a range of scales. In contrast, the exterior has a predominantly brick palette, expressing robust materiality.
DesignInc Principal, Jane Sayers, explained the design approach, ‘As we got to know our client, we learnt of the great diversity within the Jewish community with its many rites, traditions and journeys. We chose to explore this idea and express it in the use of intertwining patterns that feature throughout the interiors and the exterior brickwork.’
‘At DesignInc, we incorporate biophilia in our work. We noticed that through the use of patterns, we could strengthen the building's connections to nature by heightening the play of light and shade. The breezeway screen creates a captivating experience of light, with shadows strengthening and dissolving depending on the time of day, weather and season. It's a beautiful expression of life.’, Jane said.
The central space acts as a connective spine, with flexible community spaces flowing from it. Consulting rooms, gymnasium, and a refurbished cafe offer multiple options that welcome the community and the residents of neighbouring Gary Smorgon House.
The shule (synagogue) formerly at Gary Smorgon House has been relocated to a dedicated purpose-built space within the Centre. The residential aged care facility now connects to the Active Living Centre via an accessible linkway that encourages interaction between the community and aged care residents.
‘By creating a direct link to Gary Smorgon House, a seamless transition is created between the two facilities, enhancing daily life for residents by enabling greater community connection and independence.’, said Jane.
Striking angular roof forms connect to the vernacular language of the residential setting, but with a contemporary. It was important for the community to have a building that relates strongly to the residential scale and setting, but with quite a contemporary expression. So, the built form and the brickwork both take cues from the neighbourhood context.