Young At Home

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

“Not everybody goes to play golf or sips tea and plays bridge [when they get older],” according to architect Jeff Zimmerman. That’s why Zimmerman, along with his California-based firm Zimmerman & Associates, is in the process of envisioning architecturally smart alternatives to address the needs of a population living longer than ever.

Renderings for the Phoenix Commons senior community, in permitting at press time, show a thoughtful design that features ample space for much needed socialization.

“Social atrophy is a big killer with seniors today. Light and air in buildings lifts the soul, and modern architecture embraces openness better than any other style. Allowing the units to open to both circulation and community spaces invites interaction,” Zimmerman says. “In these flats with large glazing on each end, one can move from public to private within 30 feet. The circulation system is open to the elements and has niches where people can stop, chat, and rest. It all leads to the waterfront, where abundant communal spaces allow for community to exist. It’s architecture as a social art.”

Set to open in fall 2014, the 60,000-square-foot structure emphasizes group input, incorporating non-bearing partitions that residents will ultimately arrange in coordination with the design team; an open floor plate dotted with a community kitchen, bathrooms, and exits; and more than 40 efficient living units.

“I have been designing senior projects since the mid ’80s and we have really come a long way. It used to be just concrete block bomb shelters called nursing homes,” Zimmerman says. “The cohousing model comes from the Danes, the happiest people on the planet.” 

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