A VERDANT sinkhole is the inspiration behind the design of a new dementia village being planned for Mount Gambier in South Australia.
Seniors living architects ThomsenAdsett has teamed up with community-owned operator Boandik to design the 48-bed 'Big Sky' dementia village- complete with an engaging sensory garden enclosure - drawing inspiration from the town's famous Umpherston Sinkhole.
ThomsonAdsett's Group Director of Seniors Living, Simon Drysdale, said the brief for the dementia village was to "design an engaging sensory garden enclosure within a residential complex for people living with dementia, without using the tried and tired donut-shaped centrepiece".
"After developing and showing four master plan options for the sensory garden, Boandik opted for our 'Big Sky' option, which drew much of its inspiration from the nearby iconic Umpherston Sinkhole sunken garden."
The village will be based on the small house model with each home incorporating a 'big sky' view of the central communal area.
Mr Drysdale said the team wanted to "challenge the spatial typology of dementia care" and create an immersive space that promostes a sense of familiarity for those living with dementia, and which encourages connection and engagement between each other and the richness of experiences offered by the landscape.
"Home should be a safe haven for each of us and this is critical to ensuring the design of the sensory engagement, which will form part of the residential grounds of Boandik Dementia Village, is suitable for residents," he said.
He said the design will include references to the sinkhole, the agrarian paddock, the regional shed, main street, home, a select group of civic buildings from Mt Gambier and the 'Big Sky'.
Boandik CEO, Gillian McGinty, said the openness of the design which built in strong ties with the local region, notably the similarities to Umpherston Sinkhole and the use of local plant life, promised to promote that all important sense of familiarity needed by people living with dementia.
Founded in 1949, Boandik currently has four aged care homes in Mount Gambier, supporting 760 aged care clients across southeast SA with two retirement villages and 500 home care clients in addition to its aged care homes.
When completed Boandik Dementia Village will provide residential and palliative care for those living with dementia.