The character and identity of John Wesley Gardens is revealed within the name itself- gardens. Nestled in a quiet residential street of Geebung, the new John Wesley Gardens community is a residential care facility built to replace an undersized and outmoded facility of the same name, which had been part of the Geebung landscape since the 1960’s. Set back from the street, and fronted by extensive gardens, is the site’s “civic precinct”.
Flowing out from behind this community edge are the residential components, themselves wrapped around gardens, and in turn, backing onto the Seventh Brigade Park to the South.
Social involvement and the wellbeing of all residents are priorities of utmost importance in design for care, and the foundation of the Wesley Mission’s ethos. The aim was to create a welcoming, non-institutional environment for residents and their families, carers, and for the wider, local community whose demographic includes a generation who is facing a future in which they themselves may have to leave their homes.
The main entry building, Montville Place, is an on-site community area which supports social activities. This includes a café, meeting and function spaces and chapel. Its simple, square geometry sits quietly next to the iconic form of the neighbouring former chapel which was refurbished and now houses the community centre. The whimsical, sculptural screen is a reference to the eponymous gardens that define this site. Progressing through the public buildings towards the private realm is a journey from hotel foyer to intimacy and domesticity.
The residential component of the project articulates each individual unit as a slightly separate entity concentrating on the vertical arrangement of unit over unit. A combination of lightweight cladding and brickwork (reflecting the predominant Geebung 70’s material palette) help set this project within its suburban context. Roof colours and building setbacks create a variety of building groups and relationships to each site elevation. The roof design separates bedroom function from public space using higher ceilings to bring light and ventilation to public spaces.
John Wesley Gardens accommodates 144 residents in a modern facility with a model of care that focuses on the choices and needs of the residents. The residential component is arranged into four 36-bed communities which is an efficient aged care delivery model. Internal circulation is organised to minimise travel distances, yet is staggered in set-out to give a more relaxed, informal feel. Services are located away from residents’ areas so that the ubiquitous trolleys associated with institutions are not a part of the residents’ daily environment. Every design decision is preceded by the question, “Would you see this in your home?”
The buildings aim to create an environment in which our elders can have choice and autonomy, where they feel welcome and respected. This is an outcome that has been achieved within a modest budget.
The project has achieved a six leaf EnviroDevelopment Certification by the Urban Development Institute of Australia, achieving the required criteria for Ecosystems, Waste, Energy, Materials, Water, and Community.