Environmental: Space to Thrive in a Retirement Residence

Environmental: Space to Thrive in a Retirement Residence

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“He makes his home where living is best.”
— Latin Proverb

When it comes to retirement living, it all boils down to this: taking pride in where you live, feeling safe, secure and at home.

George Berry gets that philosophy. The Alberta-based architect has made a commitment to build senior residences with design options that have a positive impact on lifestyle. “Pride, respect and safety are key elements of our designs,” he says. “We’re always aiming to create an open, inviting, friendly community.”


Berry’s other obsession is to go green. Putting high-tech, thermal-paned windows into residences, for example, keeps residents warmer. Beds can be placed closer to windows without discomfort. Green buildings also have better air filtration, resulting in improved quality of life for seniors.

Design details like this are appreciated by Heinz Berger, a retired landscape architect living at Amica West Vancouver. The residence boasts the Heinz Berger Garden, an outdoor patio featuring a high green wall of plants as well as a large waterfall. “It’s much better than a cold, naked retaining wall,” says Heinz, 88, who has spent five years at Amica and still gets his hands dirty helping to look after several potted plants at the bright and airy solarium. Heinz insisted a waterfall be part of the outdoor garden design because “the sound of water all year round is very soothing. It even helps you get to sleep—at least it does for me.”

Berry agrees, describing water as “a very powerful stimulant to relax the body and the soul.” He also notes that “people naturally congregate to water. If there’s a fish tank at a facility, people will come right to it.” Says Berry, “The more we can introduce outdoor space that becomes living space and usable space, such as gardens and courtyards, the more it encourages people to sit outside, which is ultimately healthier.”