Designed for life: How does architecture help us age happily?

May 11, 2022

Brent Marvin – MD+A Architects Principal and Woodside Bundanoon’s lead architect – is passionate about providing better options for retirement living in Australia. To him, the project offered the opportunity to create a world-class option for community living, purpose-built for over 55s to age in place.

“We’re now very excited at the prospect of creating this retirement village model and it’s something we don’t believe has ever been done before, and hopefully it will be a model that can be replicated all around the country,” he said (source).

“Ageing in place” is an important concept at the heart of the design of Woodside Bundanoon. Read on for more.

It’s the life you want to live

Many older Australians are fiercely independent – and want to stay that way. There’s a perception that over 55s living means a loss of freedom. But at Woodside Bundanoon, we’re creating a community where you can live life the way you like to.

Ageing in place, or staying at home, in a place you can’t maintain causes more stress and challenges than you should be dealing with. Needing to modify homes to accommodate accessibility needs can be costly. Finding the right people to do it can be a challenge. Ultimately, it can be a really long and drawn-out process that causes a lot of extra stress.

Woodside’s definition of ageing in place is that, even if your needs change, it’s important to stay in the community you love. Then, it simply becomes a change in address, and not an uprooting of the world you know or a loss of connection with your friends, family and social groups. It’s also better for your mind and body to be able to stay where you’ve established a home base.

According to a Medibank study, costs associated with travel, public transport, parking and family or carer assistance are reduced with home care. In a group setting, this is reduced significantly again, with gains to be made in efficiency and frequency. For example, a seniors community can engage a physiotherapist to come on site for one day a week. That’s why it’s our goal to offer you a place you want to live with low-care options available should you need them. You’ll live as independently as you like, but still be part of the place that you’ve grown to love – everything still within reach.

Supported by architecture

The government and associated organisations support Australians’ ageing in place, meaning more people can stay at home as they get older. While we know this typically refers to ageing in your own home, the main barrier to doing this comfortably can be the maintenance and social isolation that comes with living in a large, older house.

So we looked abroad. In 2014, a study of innovative buildings for ageing populations was undertaken in Europe. It culminated in the New Architecture for the New Aged project. The aim was to identify features that could also be used in Australia. We firmly believe that it shouldn’t be difficult to find a place to live in as you get older. That’s why we’re offering well-designed, fully accessible homes that support ageing in place and include key features identified in the New Architecture for the New Aged project.

What are the physical features that help us to age happily?

Windows to the world

Bringing light into common spaces so you see the world and feel connected to it. A sunny space is a happy space.

Space grace

Spaces that are easy to adapt over time to suit different purposes and needs.

The great outdoors

Outdoor spaces, both public and private, allowing people to express themselves and have a feeling of “normality”.


While architecture can’t force a sense of community, it can encourage it. Built well, a community like The Woodside can counter loneliness and isolation, which are common issues for people when they retire.

Small is beautiful

Smaller groups and spaces make a home feel less like an institution, and cosier and more intimate.

Freedom of choice

Because we don’t all have the same taste and preferences!


Making sure places are close to social activity, shops and transport.

Something to do

Spaces can be designed for both incidental and organised activity.

For more information about Woodside Bundanoon please complete our online enquiry form or contact our agents at Henderfield directly on 02 4868 200 or Ray White on 486 218 94

Woodside Bundanoon acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of this land and pays respects to Elders both past and present. We would also like to acknowledge our young leaders who are the Elders of today, tomorrow and our future.