Creating a cost-effective design that was operational, low maintenance and most importantly, warm and welcoming for residents and their guests. This was the seemingly straightforward brief given to Thexton Smith architects by Heritage Care to develop its new aged care facility in Epping.
But there was one additional consideration: The site was located right in the heart of Northpoint Enterprise Park – a business park that’s home to multiple factories. Yet it was surrounded by a beautiful wetland, and was increasingly becoming a community-focused precinct, and health hub, with Epping Medical Centre across the road and Melbourne’s Northern Hospital less than five kilometres away.
So it’s fitting, then, that Thexton Smith’s design intent was to ensure complete harmony between residential use and the industrial zone, while maximising views over the wetland. And what they have brilliantly delivered is Epping Gardens, a two storey, 148 bed state-of-the-art aged care facility that’s as much at home in a business park, as it is in a residential community.
“We wanted to keep it warm and inviting, and residential in nature, but we chose material that would have a nice reference and harmony with the industrial zone,” says Nolan Smith, Director and Lead Architect, Thexton Smith.
With that in mind, material selection included a combination of precast panels and brick inlay for the external façade, weathering steel to the service wing, and generous use of Blackbutt timber both inside and outside, for a softening effect. “The idea was that the timber and the bricks were quite residential in nature, and the precast panels and weathering steel were industrial,” Nolan comments.
Having decided on a combination of precast panels and face brick, APM Group and Thexton Smith searched for a time efficient and cost-effective system to use. “We wanted an efficient system and we didn’t have the width for the columns so that made us choose a panel system, using a 150 precast panel throughout.”
APM Group recommended Robertson Façade Systems’ brick inlay, which had been used by The CPS Group, their precasters, accompanied by a Midnight Blue brick tile for the facade. Nolan comments, “We love the brick tile, and we think it looks great, it really is a nice brick.” Apart from aesthetics, there were other benefits in using the brick inlay system. Nolan continues, “You want quality products, and the fact that you can use the precast panel as an external wall with the brick tile and still get that residential brick look is great. And you get that same quality, longevity and fire safety rating as well.”
Most importantly, the feedback on Epping Garden’s design has been exceptionally positive. “Heritage Care is very happy and they’ve had fantastic feedback, themselves”, says Nolan. “’Earthy, spiritual and not just a five star hotel’ was one comment, so we’re pretty happy with that as well,” remarks Nolan.
Architect: Thexton Smith
Builder: APM Group
Precaster: The CPS Group