Senior Living is growing into a new development type, as Thailand and many ASEAN countries are moving into the age of Senior Living. OPENBOX has been asked to join this project team as a residential architecture expert among related expertises, such as senior living consultant, medical equipment consultant, hospital experts, and facility management team.
50% Green Area
Unlike other, earlier senior developments, Jin Wellbeing County is a large scale development, with extensive master planning, divided into 3 phases as followings:
Phase 1 - low-rise residences condominiums, medical clinic, clubhouses, sports and rehabilitation facilities,
Phase 2 - Mid-rise apartments, senior day care and medical facilities,
Phase 3 - High-rise commercial facilities, full scale hospital, and community mall.
The project scale could be great benefit in many ways. First is by focussing on the variety of facilities, functions and people that is possible only at this scale. This would also make the project feels more rounded, almost like a sustainable, small town. Second is by focussing on shared open space that is becoming very important in current urban living. The first key idea was to provide 50% green area, which should be so large, it would feel like a large public park with a few residential buildings hidden inside.
Natural and Functional Landscape
With so much landscape, Jin Wellbeing County becomes a green development with cleaner air, better environment, and great outdoor space residence to live outside, where may activities were planned and embedded among the trees and landscape space for residences to explore.
Development for LIFE
After a few design discussion, we realised that the design created for specific functions and certain demographics is Western. Developments in East prefer flexibilities in functions and target groups, because mixed use concept for developments go way back in history. Instead of focusing on targeted senior residences, we proposed Development for LIFE concept, to create communities of suitable for a residence from birth until the last day of life. We focus on creating variety of functions for all age groups. This coincide with senior residence study, that a healthier environment is when that is a good balance in residences of all age group. Architects place much emphasis on TRANSFORMABILITY, such as the room-layout that can transform to support all living conditions from a young, healthy residences to wheelchair users and assisted living condition, where bedroom can be turned into a patient bed with a living quarter of a full time care taker. In time, rail supports can be installed at a pre-designed location once needed, but not before. This is actually based on a research that a healthy living environment should not feels like medical facilities. Images of rails, bars and walking support equipments are not desirable in senior living environment. They should be completely invisible or only installed where absolutely needed, while accessibility design must be seamlessly integrated. Another unique concept is to apply Campus Design Concept (instead of a hospital like environment). By research, the silver set (another name for active, urban senior citizens) tends to prefer a campus lifestyle as they are released from family and professional burden. Campus lifestyle stands for freedom in many forms: freedom to learn new skills, to meet new people, to always engage in new activities. Campus Design Concept encourages freedoms in life, by provision of sharp looking, handsome architecture design, learning space in the form of class rooms in various sizes. Provision of “Chance Meeting” spaces ranges from many lounges in large lobby space, meeting pockets in corridor (that also serves as a wheelchair turning point, seating and resting area), and meeting spaces in the park.
Clusters of LIFE
Cozy living is not directly related to project scale, but how individual living units are composed as part of a whole development. The masterplanning of Jin Wellbeing County was based on a theory about the four models of senior living units. Starting from |Household | Small House | Open House | Neighbourhood | this resembles how a single individual place oneself under a shelter with a number of other individuals and form a family, a village, a district, and eventually a town. The masterplan was based on the same concept that make a residence feels like living in a house. This concept gives a sense of belonging, a sense of being part of a community.
Westrongly believes that tropical design is far more important than to be just a marketing gimmick. It should be a standard practice for all projects in tropical region. Jin Wellbeing County has been designed based on strict tropical guidelines. From masterplan, all buildings are long and slim, stretched along East-West axis, for cross ventilation exposure. This also brings the right amount of natural light to reach furthest corners. Vertical fins in timber print patterns help to cut excessive sunlight during late morning and early afternoon. They also helped to give a touch of warmth and coziness to the overall presence. Building corridors are flooded with natural light and ventilation, but with enough roof extension to keep the rain away from internal space. This tropical design technique this space to become more than just a breezy, well lit corridor. A lot of chatting, greeting and meeting will happen in the space that acts as a “chance meeting” space, which is more physical way of ‘socialising’ that will keep residence active.
The open space lengthened through east-west axis, along the length of buildings. Tilting window in slight angle directs visual axis to more open view. Window forms also create alternate rhythm on the facades.
Non Architecture Elements
Since the project concept was set to have a presence of lush greenery, a couple of non architecture elements have been inserted in the design. Firstly, the ground floor lobby and common facilities are mostly covered with shrubs and climbers. Landscape ground embracing the building so seamlessly making the scale of the low-rise seems less intimidating and become more cozy. Secondly, the two clubhouses placed at the end of the landscape sight line are designed as stacks of terrains, fully covered with trees. At a distance, the clubhouse become part of the landscape, like two hills rising above the tree tops. This creates dynamic visual effect to the overall project skyline. More than that, residences are meant to feel like they are living in a weekend home in the suburb.