Early in his career, Dirk DeWolfe, CEO of Town & Country Manor, a continuing care retirement community, had an encounter with a dementia resident who said so long as he was walking, he was happy. It was this experience that later became the impetus for the design for Grace Gardens at Town & Country, connecting residents with independent access to nature and the outdoors.
Rising two stories off the ground and encapsulating 50,564 square feet of space on an 8.5 acre campus in Santa Ana, California, Grace Gardens was developed in collaboration between Town & Country Manor, C.W. Driver Cos. and Hochhauser Blatter Associates Architecture & Planning. In total, the community cost $25 million to make upon completion.
Open Air Spaces Designed with Motion in Mind
From the start, the team began shaping the environment around those living with dementia. In doing so, this would allow residents to be more independent, thereby giving them greater opportunity to enjoy the pleasantries of their lives.
The central gardens for the community includes 3,000 square feet of walking paths, trees, flowers, raised gardens and a potting shed for horticulture therapy. Seating areas scattered throughout the space allow for open-air visits with family, outdoor dining or an afternoon spent doing crafts while basking in the sun.
Inside, the architecture features high ceilings, extra-wide halls, and large arched windows to make the space feel open and provide plenty of natural light. To support wayfinding, the hallways are U-shaped with no dead ends, so residents will never feel “stuck.”
The community has 48 private and semiprivate studio units that can house up to 88 residents total. These rooms are divided into four neighborhoods, functioning independently to create smaller household environments with the scope of the larger community. In addition, shadowboxes with personal photos and belongings are displayed at the entrance of each apartment, providing expressions of individuality and natural wayfinding.
Common areas in each neighborhood promote further social interaction, with each section including a living room, a great room, and a therapeutic kitchen where residents can participate in cooking activities and share meals together. Additional amenities include a sun deck terrace, a full-service bistro, quiet rooms, a beauty salon, activity rooms, lounges, and media room.
Another version of this article originally appeared on our sister site Environments for Aging.