A child care centre is not something you would expect to see in a retirement village, but The Botanic, a new complex in development near Auckland, will feature exactly that.
The pre-school centre, which will eventually cater for 100 children, is designed to create "intergenerational engagement" between elders and pre-schoolers, says Alan Edwards, one of the partners at The Botanic.
"If you can bring the wisdom of grandparents together with the young developing minds of pre-schoolers, well, that's when the magic happens," he says.
The child care centre will be independently run within the village and is one of several ground-breaking retirement and aged care innovations being developed at The Botanic.
Edwards says one of the foundation pillars of The Botanic is supporting people to lead healthy, active lives. "Wellness is really at the heart of The Botanic; the architects have focused on this along with connection, nature, joy and community and it is for people who want to lead purposeful lives."
The complex will feature a 20m lap swimming pool, gym, wellness room, golf simulator, putting green, nature walk, indoor and outdoor bowls and a residents' workshop. Raised garden beds will allow residents to grow their own vegetables and flowers.
They're even considering bee-keeping. "Given the extensive planting we're planning across the entire site it would make sense," Edwards says. "It's early days yet but it's something we're looking into."
Construction will begin shortly on 27 villas - the first phase of the development – and they should be ready to move into by the middle of next year.
When complete the eight hectare site (which is being built by The Botanic Partnership Ltd) will have 80 villas and 383 apartments for independent-living residents while an aged care home will provide 40 beds to meet the full range of care needs.
Edwards says it is important that modern retirement villages not only offer this care but also world class amenities to support people to live the life they choose while continuing to engage with their community.
"Research tells us that nature, wellness, purpose and intergenerational living not only enhance but lengthen our lives," he says.
In the United States around 100 retirement homes are estimated to have programmes involving pre-schoolers. Research by Stanford University in California has concluded that ageing adults are one of the best groups to spend time with young children – not only because they can pass on decades of wisdom, but also because they are at a point in life where they have the availability and patience to do so.
"They themselves seek and need purpose in their lives," the research says. "But they can also provide the kind of stimulation young children need to thrive."
In the UK, an experiment in a retirement home in Bristol earlier this year in which 11 pensioners spent six weeks interacting with 10 local pre-schoolers produced dramatic results.
It set out to answer the question of whether bringing together those at the dawn and dusk of their lives would have benefits for both. The answer, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph, was a resounding yes.
"At the start, almost all the older people were struggling with some combination of depression, lack of mobility and loneliness," the report said. "After weeks of shared activities their mental and physical health had dramatically improved with tests revealing positive changes in mood, mobility and memory – and genuine bonds were formed across the age divide."
Edwards says the vision for The Botanic was inspired by nature and a desire to connect people to the beauty of the outside world: "Our design-team is well-researched and knows that people value living in a beautiful botanical environment.
"Everything here is designed to align with nature; there will be orchard trees, park-like landscaping and a boardwalk lined with native trees. There will also be a library, an activity room for arts and crafts, a cinema, a club house positioned at the heart of the village and a restaurant," he says.
The residents' workshop is designed for creative people who want to keep busy and use tools and work benches.
Residents won't be fenced in. Edwards believes it is important for people to remain connected to their community, not fenced off from it. Security will be provided by the latest technology and will include number plate recognition.
The Botanic is close to local shopping and cafes in Silverdale, is positioned almost adjacent to the Silverdale Park and Ride and is five minutes from State Highway 1 and the northern motorway. The Wainui golf course is also nearby.
Villas are priced from $785,000. The sales suite is at the corner of Painton Rd and Hibiscus Coast Highway, Silverdale and is open 11am – 3pm seven days a week.
For more information phone 0508 268 264 or visit thebotanic.co.nz