Top 6 Senior Housing Design Trends for 2018
As 2018 takes off, let’s take a look at what senior housing architecture and design trends will evolve to help developers and designers meet today’s challenges.
1. Wellness Center/Wellness Program
New residents aren’t happy with just a fitness center equipped with a treadmill and an exercise bike. There’s an increased emphasis on a bright, airy wellness center, with dedicated and trained staff members. ‘Wellness’ used to mean the fitness center only, but now the concept of wellness expands to the idea of the whole person, centered around six dimensions: social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, vocational, and physical. These wellness programs intend to nurture residents’ mind, body, and soul. They also include continuing education classes, volunteer opportunities, outreach programs with community schools and art programs, and exercise and spiritual programs. As the industry becomes more wellness focused, state-of-the-art wellness centers are becoming an important amenity feature for senior living communities, requiring space for equipment and a variety of classes, such as yoga and tai chi, workshops for crafts and art, a club room or classroom spaces, and social area for cooking and entertaining.
2. Customizable apartments that provide choices for residents
Residents are demanding the ability to customize and personalize their new living spaces. And two options just won’t do it! They want the freedom to choose from a wide range of flexible and customizable options for their new home, from custom and specialty paint, carpet, and fixtures to custom cabinets, granite or quartz countertops, closet organizers, or even hardwood floors or porcelain tile. Developers have to adapt to these desires and incorporate a design approach that allows residents to be part of the process.
3. Flexible space with fewer structural-bearing walls and columns
Design residential units and common areas that can transform over time to meet current and future consumer demands. Design for flexibility with fewer structural-bearing walls and columns that can be costly, if not impossible, to move down the road. In common areas, design spaces that can serve multipurpose functions. It’s ideal to have a large assembly space that can also easily break down into two or three smaller spaces for resident meetings or club activities. We see a lot of success with spaces that serve multiple functions, for example, continental breakfast/cocktail lounge/card playing, theater/classroom, or spa treatment/exam rooms.
4. Rapid escalation in construction costs
Construction costs are escalating rapidly. This requires the rethinking of how best to provide a desirable new community while controlling expenditures. Our clients tell us it takes anywhere from two to five years to develop a community. The construction industry cannot keep up with the overall demand, so the rate of price increases is going up faster than the escalation estimates our clients planned for in their proformas. To counteract escalating cost it is imperative that we continue to explore new methods and materials, and design options and features.
5. The rise of active adults (55+) communities
Another trend is the rise of active adult (55+) communities, which are designed to attract a similar resident base to independent living developments but are different in several ways. Active adult communities are marketing to younger, more active seniors, usually ages 65 to 75. These developments are usually sited in dense urban neighborhoods and within walking distance to plenty of shopping, restaurants, and other services. Consequently, residents of these new developments are more involved in their surrounding communities as they take advantage of these nearby amenities. This is allowing many active adult communities to forgo the usual features, such as food service and salons, and instead rethink their spaces, such as replacing traditional formal food service programs with more flexible community kitchen spaces that can be used for cooking classes and other functions.
6. Environmentally conscious residents, demanding that their homes reflect their values
In many parts of the country, residents are also becoming more environmentally conscious, demanding that their homes reflect their values. Recycling, the use of low-energy appliances and lights and sustainably sourced food products are just the tip of the iceberg. Communities are now looking to the installation of solar panels for energy production — not just for homes, but also for common areas. Resident gardens are also increasing in size and importance, as dining services teams are being challenged to include the ultimate in fresh ingredients: those grown by the residents themselves, on-site. Some organizations are looking to these trends as opportunities to grow and improve, while others are struggling to keep up and find their place in the market.
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