St Laurence Park Retirement Village

Location: Lara
Date of Completion: 2022

With an ageing population, the demand for retirement homes is becoming ever more pressing. No one generally likes to think about the latter years of life, but the reality is there’s a shortage of quality accommodation to suit this ever-expanding cohort. It’s certainly a growing area for RUBI Architects, which is making an indelible mark in this domain.

St Laurence Park Retirement Village Stage 1 at Lara, on the outskirts of Geelong, has just been completed. Comprising 20 apartments in four two-storey buildings (with lifts included), this need was clearly perceived by developer Gen U, a not-for-profit organisation. With five apartments in each building, some with their own private gardens and others with terraces (on the first floor), there’s a strong connection to the site, with many of the established gums retained. Replacing what were fairly basic units built in the 1980s, these apartments, between 80 and 110 square metres in area, will provide a considerably higher quality of accommodation for those who are renting – a second stage, comprising 43 apartments expected to commence in the new year, are intended for sale rather than for rental. 

While RUBI Architects was mindful of creating comfortable accommodation for predominantly singles and couples in their late 60s and beyond, it was conscious of delivering affordable housing that still met its high standards. The external materials include brick, exposed and rendered, as well as CFC cladding. And inside, there’s a neutral palette that includes wide-format tiles in the kitchen and dining areas, with carpet in the two bedrooms and in the living areas. Laminate joinery appears in the kitchen that complements an engineered stone island bench and, rather than a European-style laundry (concealed behind cupboards) there’s a spacious bathroom/laundry for residents. And instead of large garages and gardens that aren’t used, there are carports and more manageable private outdoor spaces. One thing that’s apparent is the generosity of internal spaces, including areas such as bedrooms, living areas or even passages that ensure there’s sufficient room to move around furniture or a bed for those reliant on a walker. As important for the architects was to strengthen the connection to the outdoors with unimpeded views of the landscape, paramount particularly for those more housebound – hence a large number of picture windows both in bedrooms and in living spaces. 

RUBI Architects also thought of the smaller practical details that make people’s lives that much easier on a day-to-day basis – microwaves and ovens placed at suitable heights to avoid bending or reaching, charging points in the foyers of the apartments on both levels to ensure that motorised scooters can be left safely undercover and charged overnight. 

While retirement homes are often seen as unexciting for many architects who would prefer to design a hotel or luxury resort, RUBI Architects sees this area as a high priority – ensuring that people look forward to their later years in life and can make the most of it.

RUBI Architects can be contacted on 03 4227 1673.

Text by Stephen Crafti – Hon. RAIA

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