The 2022 Global Wellness Trends Report predicts that the senior living segment will move away from housing that is socially segregated by age, with older adults opting instead for “intentional intergenerationality,” including pocket neighborhoods (clustered housing around a shared space), intergenerational co-living models, and strategies for designing with intergenerationality in mind. Consider Kindred Uncommon in Buda, Texas, which has set out to rethink residential communities for adults of all ages with open green spaces and a design built for interaction and connection.
It’s something to strive for, according to Rachel Rangelov, executive vice president, design and construction for Longview Senior Housing, which oversees a portfolio of more than 90 properties across 23 states and in Canada. “The idea of integrating and continuing to keep seniors engaged in community is essential for good aging,” she says. But, “it’s ambitious to create cities, if you will, where somebody has to care about keeping people engaged.”
Creating and maintaining a sense of connection is crucial—particularly given the social and mental-health consequences of the pandemic, which were particularly difficult for the high-risk senior population. A new breed of properties, dubbed “lifestyle communities” aim to foster just that, often right in the heart of a city. For the 19-story Apsley by Sunrise, coming to Manhattan’s Upper West Side next year, for example, locally based Champalimaud Design takes cues from the sophistication of the city’s residents, with an elegant design and hospitality-inspired amenities like an art studio, wellness suite (plus wearable tech for residents), and an onsite theater.
In San Francisco, global design firm March and White Design (MAWD) has crafted Coterie Cathedral Hill, a collaboration between Related Companies and Atria Senior Living (a second outpost recently opened its doors in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards). Combining a site-specific palette of light earth tones and luxe finishes with cutting-edge wellness initiatives, the sense of community and connectivity is fostered through communal lobbies, a two-story library, and a bistro and wine bar.
Mae Architects in London and Dorchester, UK-based Scott-Masson Interior Design have taken up the mantle to foster social interaction with the John Morden Centre, a daycare and health facility for seniors that is part of longstanding London retirement community Morden College. With a structure crafted from cross-laminated timber and swathed in a brick façade, the center challenges notions of senior care design. Nodding to the fact that the built environment has a direct impact on people’s quality of life and longevity, medical facilities are joined with social spaces such as a café and events hall, plus corridors featuring seating that looks out over a tranquil courtyard.
While many properties that offer such luxurious living are only accessible for the well-to-do, the approach should be adopted throughout the segment, according to Rangelov. “If you believe that connection is important, then a lot of what we’ve been doing over the years is the exact opposite. It’s a reminder to think about what it feels like for someone when they are making these choices [of where to live] and what we can do as people who design, build, and operate these communities to change that.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s December 2022 issue.