Retirement Community Design and Layout Considerations

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Retirement communities are specifically targeted to individuals over the age of 65 who prefer to relocate to surroundings which center on convenience and quality of life.

A significant trend in residential and community design is the rising interest in age confined projects. Retirement communities are specifically targeted to individuals over the age of 65 who prefer to relocate to surroundings which center on convenience and quality of life. The special needs of this age bracket demand decisive thinking when planning the layout of the facilities as well as the design of single housing units and common spaces.


A lot of clients would be keenly concerned in the available facilities of your project. Medical support is of chief importance, so if you don't plan to have a tertiary care medical facility inside your compound, consider having at the least secondary or primary care promptly available. In these cases a well-equipped tertiary care hospital shouldn't be too far away.

Commercial areas where residents can buy necessities such as food, prescriptions, and more common household items should be integrated. Residents will welcome easily accessible restaurants and cafes to break the monotony of home cookery. As an alternative, a system which allows easy contact with delivery from external establishments should be in place.

Age-specific Design Considerations

Both common and private areas must be designed with the special needs of older people in mind. Wider access paths are requisite when they need to be negotiated with walkers, wheelchairs, or human aid. Warning and directional signs should be big and easy to read. Pathways must be configured with gentle slopes, non-slip surfaces, and frequent rest areas.

Older people typically prefer one-story housing, even so, well maintained elevators of a good size are an accepted alternative. Focused group discussions uncover that most people want wide airy spaces, with decent lighting. Numerous rails and handholds must be in place. Doorknobs, windows, drawers and cabinet handles must all be easy to grasp for arthritic hands.

Social Design

The social aspect is a significant consideration in these projects. Gerontologic health is intimately linked to social integration, so there must be ample opportunities for occupants to socialize. This mandates not only such 1st level social areas such as clubhouse or common recreational and sports locations. Thought must be put into planning common areas to encourage socialization.

The major dilemma is how to balance suitably interspersed social areas while keeping a sense of spaciousness and privacy. Housing that is overly close together feels safer, but may be agoraphobic. Domiciles that are too far apart make social calls hard as they discourage ambulation. A balance must be struck between the need for solitary time and the need for interaction.


This is still a significant consideration, but must take a back seat to other concerns. This doesn't mean that you must take the lazy route and go for institutionalized or ultraconservative design. Remember that this industry is extremely competitive and if all other matters are equal, then the way your project looks would factor greatly in the success of the endeavor.

A beautiful location is constantly a great starting point. Most seniors desire retirement communities to be somewhere warm, ideally in proximity to lakes or the ocean. That being said, a beautiful mountainous region might also hold some charm. Though a somewhat conservative total feel may keep from alienating people of an earlier generation, there is something to be said about the excitement that can be yielded by a modern design.

Remember that good taste exceeds age and upbringing.



1 comment

carol roach
Posted on Jan 25, 2011