Australian Unity unveils new Albert Park luxury assisted care residence The Alba
Australian Unity is recycling older commercial buildings into luxury aged care residences. Image: Supplied.
  • Australian Unity repurposes former head office into luxury assisted care residence.
  • Is part of Australian Unity's Albert Park seniors living precinct.

Australian Unity has repurposed its former head office into a premier assisted living and vertical aged care residence. Leading architecture firm, Fender Katsalidis, responsible for other top-notch builds like Garangula Gallery in New South Wales, and Paragon Melbourne, designed the project.

Ageing in luxury

The adaptive reuse project, called The Alba, is spread across 15 stories, and includes 95 residential care suites and 60 easy-living apartments. It is part of Australian Unity’s Albert Park seniors living precinct, which includes The Grace, a similar, high-end collection retirement apartment overlooking Albert Park Lake and the Melbourne city skyline, built in 2019.

Australian Unity’s executive general manager of social infrastructure, Ryan Banting, says that the Albert Park precinct is an urban redevelopment project aimed at recycling commercial properties to help older Australians downsize to housing better suited for their circumstance in prime locations.

“The Alba caters for residents who want to downsize from the family home without compromising on quality or losing their independence,” Banting says.

“We know that older Australians expect to have choice and control as they age — and The Alba has been designed to support residents to age in place and remain in their community as their care needs evolve.”

Ryan Banting, Australian Unity

Banting believes that The Alba’s easy living apartments will allow older individuals to live independently, while having support just around the corner, such as domestic assistance, personal care, and dining choices.

“For people requiring high levels of care, The Alba’s residential care suites provides accommodation and care that promotes dignity, independence and safety.”

Easy Living Apartments
Easy Living Apartments. Image: The Alba.

The apartments are called easy living because they are developed with the needs of older adults in mind. Every floor surface is level, with no steps or potential trip hazards. Additionally, bathrooms are adaptable, with modifications for less mobile elderly individuals, and bedrooms are easily accessible.

Built from the same DNA

Fender Katsalidis principal, Jessica Lee, says that The Alba’s design reflects the high quality and grade of care also present in The Grace.

“The Grace was one of the leading high-rise retirement living residences in Australia, and with the repositioning of The Alba, we were given a great opportunity to create an inner-city neighbourhood with appropriate accommodations in a vertical setting,” Lee says.

“Transforming a 1970s commercial building into a 21st-century residential home is not a simple feat. We were conscious of instilling the vertical form with as much warmth and brightness as possible. Adding windows in the northern facade and introducing balconies on all four sides of the building were key design initiatives to maximise light and ventilation. The approach also created a subtle external building identity shift from commercial use to residential use.

“We have translated the same DNA of The Grace into The Alba so that the residents ageing in place with Australian Unity can feel comfortable and secure in the familiarity of their environment—one that instils an authentic sense of home.”

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