Woodside Village in Cape Town, South Africa was built in 1996, but the community does not look the same today after extensive renovations and upgrades.
Situated in the Cape Town suburb of Rondebosch, Woodside Village. When Auria Senior Living took over in 2021, the company knew it needed to move mountains to improve the community, with some parts remaining unchanged since it first opened.
With sweeping upgrades to the campus and physical layout, coupled with amenity upgrades, Woodside Village was transformed into an elegant senior living community.
“We felt that it was needed to improve the daily experiences of residents,” said Auria Senior Living CEO Barry Kaganson. “We needed to bring it up to our standard and to bring it up to international standards.”
To that end, Woodside Village is the first place winner of the Senior Housing News Architecture and Design Award for Best International Project.
Planning for the design started in 2021, when Auria Senior Living acquired a majority interest in the community, Kaganson said. He noted that as soon as the company was on-site, initial planning was nearly complete.
“We preempted it taking a long time by starting the design as soon as we started due diligence activities on Woodside,” Kaganson said.
That head-start gave Auria Senior Living more time to inform residents of the sweeping renovations and changes to the community. With emphasis on planning, the project aimed to improve living spaces, common areas and shared amenities for residents.
The initial design from the architects and designers at Gordon Hart and Associates and Metaphor Design included upgrades and additions to the community. Specifically, it included the addition of a new wellness center, reception foyer and a private dining room.
New fixtures and windows were also planned throughout the community to improve lighting, and the designers also prioritized natural materials.
The history of the site, which dates back to the early 19th century, was central to the architecture and design of the community to ensure the project still fit in with the surrounding area.
“We were taking into account the surrounding architecture and preserving surrounding history which was quite necessary in terms of what we were and weren’t allowed to do from a planning perspective.”
As a fully-occupied community, the biggest challenge was working around the daily operations that make a senior living community tick.
So, Auria and contractor Dekon Projects renovated the community in phases. Residents were moved into different parts of the community as construction progressed, Kaganson said.
For example, residents still needed a place to dine every day, and they wanted continued access to shared amenities like the croquet lawn.
Construction started in August 2021, which was a few months off its scheduled start date. Kaganson said the project was “quite delayed” because of the Covid-19 pandemic for various reasons, including a South African steel industry strike and pandemic-riddled supply chain issues. The project took 14 months when it was originally slated for 11 months.
Even with pandemic challenges, the construction progressed and the community was able to coexist with build teams that resulted in no design changes to the project aside from updating the building’s fire control to complying with changes in regulations, Kaganson said.
The renovations were further complicated by Auria adding an additional floor to the community. That resulted in the contractor bringing large construction equipment onto the site.
The community renovations and additions were completed in July 2022.
Today, Woodside Village stands as a testament to the work the project planners put into the community.
Today the community’s wellness center has an indoor pool, gym, exercise studio and treatment rooms for physical therapy services. A theater was also added along, with a bar and lounge area with a deck that overlooks the croquet lawn and nearby Table Mountain.
The new addition also included a game room, activities room and arts room. A private dining area was also added for private events for residents or special dinners.
“There’s a vantage point that didn’t exist before over Woodside Village and it’s quite novel and pleasant for residents,” Kaganson said. “It’s been a great addition.”
Existing amenities including the community’s coffee shop and dining and lounge areas were renovated. Project planners also worked a library into a space also shared by a coffee shop.
Before the community was renovated, Kaganson said the common areas of the community weren’t often used by residents, including lounge areas and the coffee shop. All that changed after the construction.
“We’re seeing triple the foot traffic that we saw at the same timeframe at other communities,” Kaganson said.
The wellness suite is a resident hit, along with the bar and lounge area with the great views. Programming like aqua aerobics are full to the extent that additional classes needed to be added.
Twice weekly, special dinners are held with various themes and Sunday a la carte lunch dining has been successful.
“It really has been very successful,” Kaganson said. “And it’s been interesting to see how families and friends have started hanging out there, whereas it never happened before.”
The community has a wait list of over 1,000 interested residents. Six units were placed on the market last October that resulted in over 100 offers, Kaganson said. That all could lead to future growth of the community.