Ara exhibition illustrates future of retirement living

News News & events

22 Nov 2016

What will Christchurch’s future retirement homes look like? The answer could be at Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Visualise exhibition, a showcase of Diploma in Interior Design (Residential) students’ best work at Lighthouse Lighting, 210 Moorhouse Avenue, from 23 - 27 November.

Students compare their designs for a retirement complex apartment, (from left Emma van Herpt, Interior Design programme leader Maggie O'Neill, Maggie McCabe and Hannah Allison)

This year’s Design Practice class was given the unique challenge of working with local client Arvida Group to design a highly-accessible, Lifemark-rated, two-bedroom apartment. Their ideas may be used as inspiration for spaces in the new Rhodes on Cashmere retirement complex.

Programme Leader Maggie O’Neill says it is the first time that students have designed a space to a client brief for a real project.  

“They’re now equipped with an extra layer of knowledge - they’ve experienced meeting with a client, visiting a site and designing to meet real specifications. Applying their skills to this project will certainly give students an added edge on their CVs,” she says.

Ara has been collaborating with Lifemark since 2012 to ensure students are prepared to consider the changing needs of people in their designs. Meeting Lifemark’s standard involves a lot of careful planning. It’s not just about a spacious layout and entranceways - students also have to think about construction aspects, such as which walls will need to be reinforced to hold grab rails in the future.

“There are so many things to consider - like door handles that are easy for arthritic hands, the height of light switches for people using wheelchairs, and different types of alarm systems for people who are hard of hearing,” student Maggie McCabe explains.

The class was given a floor area and then designed everything from the interior walls and how the rooms would be laid out, to the height of the toilet and the type of taps used.

“The brief came with real challenges. We had to design specifically for someone else and had client constraints, such as not being able to put the kitchen in a thoroughfare. We also had to think about what the people living in these apartments might need in the future, and make sure that the space was ready for it,” McCabe says.

Arvida Group and Lifemark will review students’ designs at the opening of Visualise on Tuesday 22 November, 6pm at Lighthouse Lighting, 210 Moorhouse Avenue. The exhibition also includes a wide range of other student work. It opens to the public from 23 - 27 November.