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Seniors Housing Solution in Perth’s CBD

The stubbornly high vacancy rate in Perth’s older CBD offices is a unique opportunity to fill a gap in the city’s housing offerings by encouraging building conversions to retirement housing and aged care facilities, according to a leading mixed-use property design firm.

Despite vacancies tightening in Perth’s newer Prime and A-grade offices the latest Property Council of Australia office market report also shows vacancies in Perth’s ageing B & C grade buildings in the CBD remain around 30% and 20% respectively.

“Traditional building conversions in the CBD target hotels and apartments.  However these sectors are already being catered for in new developments.

“But there are no supplies of new retirement housing and aged care facilities in Perth’s CBD, which could present an ideal opportunity to consider this form of building conversion or redevelopment”, said KPA Architects Director Todd Paterson.

“A lack of seniors housing in the CBD is a problem for most Australian cities.  However office vacancies are much lower in other capitals compared to Perth, and there is less incentive to supply seniors housing because returns are better in office development.

“The modern thinking about locating senior’s housing is changing and today the strong preference is to be around other activities in busier locations, like retail and wellness centres in mixed use developments.

“For example, mixed use property development including seniors’ housing is already happening in the suburbs like Landcorp’s Multi-Aged Precinct (MAP) in Claremont.

“We believe a MAP could work well in the eastern end of the CBD close to Royal Perth Hospital and emerging wellness providers around Hibernian Place.  Some of the CBD’s oldest offices with the highest vacancies are also located here.

“Only three per cent of Perth’s CBD resident population is over 75 years of age.  In comparison, over six per cent of the state-wide population is over 75.

“The low number of seniors living in the city centre coupled with under-utilised ageing office buildings presents a unique opportunity to broaden the CBD’s demographic base as well as an economic solution for the office market”, said Mr Paterson.

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Selecting Best Seniors Housing Option Key to Success

Selecting the best option to fit a seniors’ housing development on a site is the most important decision when planning a new project.  With so many options available in Western Australia making the right decision early can make or break the project.

A site for a new project will have various physical and demographic attributes that would suit a particular form of housing for seniors.

The process starts with a good understanding of the housing options available.  Apart from home ownership and renting, which most people are familiar with, there are five specialist housing options for seniors in WA with their own covering legislation.

  1. Traditional retirement villages for retirees over 55, which are managed and administrated by a village operator and covered by the Retirement Villages Act;
  2. Residential parks for over 45’s commonly labelled ‘lifestyle villages’ with privately owned or rented transportable homes on leased land, covered by the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act;
  3. Strata schemes in private estates for over 55’s with individually owned or leased strata homes, covered by the Strata Titles Act or Community Titles Act;
  4. Licenced lodging houses and private boarding arrangements covered by common law contracts; and
  5. Residential aged-care facilities including nursing homes with around the clock care services, covered by the Commonwealth Aged Care Act.

The Seniors Housing Advisory Centre’s Seniors Housing Guide has more information about each housing option, the respective legal frameworks and the form of housing that is available.

At KPA Architects we see raft of key industry trends in the provision of seniors’ housing in WA.

  • Co-locating retirement village and aged-care facilities to provide greater long-term peace of mind for residents. As this form of development becomes more popular new facilities will also look to co-locate with other land uses like child-care and schools. This is evident in our Bethanie Gwelup development with Bethanie Group.
  • Vertical villages to suit locations with limited land area and integrate with other uses like retail and private apartments. We are seeing this trend overseas, such as the Kampung Admiralty in Singapore by renowned Woha Architects.
  • Strata schemes for over 55’s designed to provide more independent and private living options. New developments are also often located adjacent to aged-care facilities. Developers are looking to the recent reforms to WA’s recent strata laws to plan new strata communities with a greater mix of shared amenities. This is evident in our Bethanie Gwelup development with Bethanie Group, where access to courtyards and the hairdresser salon are shared by both the Retirement Apartments and Aged Care Facility.

New retirement and aged-care developments are also looking to become local hubs for the delivery of home-care services like the provision of meals, laundry and general medical needs for seniors living independently in neighbouring suburbs.

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KPA Archibalds – The World’s Greatest Shave

KPA Architects are proud to be participating in the World’s Greatest Shave this year as the KPA Archibalds for the Leukaemia Foundation – we’re on a mission to save the world from blood cancer!

A number of scalps and beards will be shaved off for charity on Friday 15th March, as well as some staff colouring their hair for support.

Please sponsor us to give families facing blood cancer the emotional and practical support they need. You will also fund vital research to help more people survive blood cancers, while improving their quality of life.

Every day another 35 Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer. That’s one Aussie every 41 minutes. Although research is improving survival, sadly an Australian loses their life to blood cancer every two hours.

Every little bit helps, so if you would like to donate please click below:

Thank you for your support!

KPA Archibalds.


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Koh-I-Noor – A Contemporary Diamond

Koh-I-Noor Contemporary Aged Care (Koh-I-Noor) designed by KPA Architects (KPA) for the Spine and Limb Foundation, introduces a new level of connected living and service delivery to Western Australia.

KPA Architects Director Todd Paterson said the 80-bed aged care facility, which opened in March 2018 in Wembley, a leafy inner-western suburb of Perth, was designed to be different from the start.

The Koh I Noor diamond (Koh I Noor translates to ‘Mountain of light’ in Persian) is the centre of coronation Crowns worn by Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother.

“We developed the facility’s architectural design philosophy around this meaning by overlaying a sectional image of the Koh I Noor diamond over an aerial image of Perth city to create a ‘connection to landscape’ and ‘connection to community’. These themes also influenced the project at a holistic level including the built form, interior design, wayfinding and public artwork”, said Mr Paterson.

“The design approach of Koh I Noor was to create a home for residents that sits comfortably in the existing residential streetscape, and the facility has a look and feel of a home.

“An informal, friendly, easily comprehended floor plan helps create a homely ambience, unusual for a project of this size, which avoids the rigid and institutional nature typical of this building type.

“The facility is split over two levels and each floor is broken up into wings with a secure dementia wing located on the ground floor. Each wing is connected through large passage ways and communal areas, with attractive internalised courtyards which connect the wings inside the building to each other which in turn connects the building to the outside and surrounding community.

“The courtyards provide shaded areas for socialising, napping, gardening, games, activities and looking after pets. Glimpses and views to the outside from many internal common areas form pleasant external vistas, where the residents can feel part of the broader community and yet still be secure.

“Traditional nurse offices were replaced with ‘nurse nooks’ off common areas so staff and residents are always close to each other. Upstairs and close to the main lift is a dedicated family lounge to celebrate birthdays and other important family events and allows activity to extend onto the upper deck.

“Bedrooms are fitted with large windows, flooding the rooms with natural light and ventilation, with views to nature and landscaping.

“The interior colours, patterns and imagery were drawn from nearby natural landmarks like Perry Lakes and Bold Park, which provide a strong sense of place.

“We created and designed custom imagery artwork, each responding to its themed wing, to help residents identify where they are in the building and to help find their way around.

“KPA worked closely with the client to create this home and include unique ideas such as the nurse nooks, internalised courtyards, upper deck and wayfinding scheme.

“Listening to and interpreting the client’s ideas and collaboration were ongoing practices which lead to the outcome.

“With the end user at the forefront of everyone’s mind throughout the design process, the end user has benefited”, said Mr Paterson.

Click here to be directed to the project page

KPA’s Sally Jones selected to be on Retirement Living Committee

We are excited to announce our Associate Architect Sally Jones has been selected to be on the Property Council of Western Australia’s 2019-20 Retirement Living Committee.

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With Sally’s experience in many types of architecture, including retirement living, we are looking forward to what she and the other great members on this committee will bring to help shape the future of retirement living.

Congratulations Sally and to all new committee members!

To see the full list of successful applicants, click on the link below:

Staff Interview

Staff Interview – Marc Spadaccini

In the second of a series of 3-question interviews with KPA team members, Peter Van Geloven (PVG) interviewed Marc Spadaccini (MS).


Marc Spadaccini is one of our Associate Directors, who is a highly driven and prides himself in the creation of designs that enhance people’s lives. He is incredibly knowledgeable in many aspects of the architectural and construction processes.  What an asset here at KPA and a real team player.

PVG: So Marc, what was your incentive and drive that made you pursue the path of becoming an Architect?

MS: My family has been in the construction industry for many years, where my father had a master building company with three of his brothers called Spadaccini Bros.  I spent a lot of time with my dad on building sites and grew a passion for construction, for how building elements could fit together beautifully, and for how people reacted when they used the buildings.  My dad ran the office side of the company and he often did house designs for clients.  Over the years I loved seeing his designs built and become cherished places for families, and it made me really proud to see those people enjoying their homes.  I soon realised my interest lay in the early process of discovering the family’s unique stories and then designing a new home that was specifically for them.

marc + blackboardWhen I was at school I loved making furniture and even more-so enjoyed designing and sketching up the furniture first and then being able to make it.  I also love to draw.  I have a photo of me (left) when I was around 5 years old, sitting in front of our large blackboard having drawn a bedroom for Humphrey Bear to sleep in.  I actually remember paying attention to the details on the bed to make sure they were right.

The passion and incentive now is still the same, just with varying clients with different stories and more complex needs.  It still is (and always will be) a wonderful feeling seeing people joyfully use and experience something you have designed from scratch for them and seeing it work.  It makes me happy.



PVG: Where do you draw your design inspiration from? 

MS: Inspiration for design is everywhere in life I think. It may be in a facial expression, in a certain emphasis on a word, in a glass of wine, or a pausing moment on a bridge in another country.  Architects tend to read broadly to keep their ideas open. I believe it is just as important to “experience broadly”.  Living life in someone else’s shoes or in someone else’s country changes your mindset substantially.

Likewise, I believe it is critical to understand our client’s and end user’s needs well before pen hits the paper. For example we design a lot of residential aged care, and therefore it has been important for our staff to spend a lot of time in local and overseas care facilities, with residents, with staff, and volunteering.  It helps our staff make informed decisions from the initial master planning through to detailing a hand rail. Only from that informed mindset can you successfully innovate and push the boundaries of what can be achieved, and how we can better enable residents, their families and the staff.

PVG: How do you see your role in the office with KPA’s purpose “To create environment’s that enhance people’s lives”?

MS: This motto is ingrained in all of our designs. It exists because we endeavour to design places that are unique to the end user’s needs.  I am involved in the early aspects of feasibility studies, master planning and concept design, where we need to understand the end user’s narrative. My role is often to help find an initial balanced design solution that suits both the client and the end user, essentially enhancing everyone’s lives.

We also have signs all around the office reinforcing that our purpose also relates to us – and I think it’s great! We recently had a “value’s workshop” in the office and recognised that our staff value three things the most;  Respect, a Healthy Environment and Growth & Development.  Part of my role is to help foster and support an environment where these values are at the core of our office culture and our decision making. We are strong on work-life balance and encourage our staff to spend time with their families.


Speed Careering at Applecross Senior High School

Our recently promoted Associate Architects Sally Jones and Jessica Clarkson were invited to participate at the Year 9 Speed Careering day at Applecross Senior High School on Wednesday the 31st of October.

As many students have limited knowledge and breadth about career paths, the day presented an opportunity for Sally and Jessica to speak about what being an architect is, what it involves and why it’s the best career. Some interesting questions were raised and conversations had, as well as some impressed faces when they saw the types of projects KPA have completed.

Hoping to have inspired some young year 9 students, we wish them all the best in their career choices and their year 11 and 12 exams!

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Lino Iacomella Joins the KPA Architects Team

KPA Architects are pleased to announce Lino Iacomella has joined our team as a Senior Consultant with the key responsibility of business development. Lino is the former Executive Director of the Property Council of Western Australia with his career spanning at the Property Council for over 10 years. Lino is a corporate strategist and industry advocate who is highly respected in the West Australian property industry.

Lino’s experience, skills and knowledge is a valuable addition to our team and we look forward to working with him.

Welcome to the KPA Architects team Lino!

Staff Interview

Staff Interview – Peter Van Geloven

For the first of a series of 3-question interviews with KPA team members, to help you get to know us all a bit better, Libby Pracilio interviewed Peter Van Geloven.

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For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, Peter is our incredibly knowledgeable and technically savvy Documentation Manager. Within his broader project leadership role, he makes sure we’re all on track in terms of documentation quality and is a master when it comes to building detailing.

LP: So Peter, your original qualification was in building design and drafting, but you have your Diploma in Building and Construction as well.  What inspired you to follow that path?

PVG:  I wanted to increase my knowledge and develop a better understanding of the processes involved on the building side of our industry.   This has allowed me to increase my versatility and capacity within the office and to be a part of the continuing evolution for our industry.  It is also a stepping stone to pursue my builder’s registration.

LP: As an architectural practice, we’re predominantly office-based rather than out on site.  How do you find your additional education informs you in your current role?

PVG:  It has allowed me to better understand activities on site and to improve systems in the office, so that the information we include in documentation is more relevant to each individual project.  This additional education has given me the ability to better coordinate services, trades and construction on site.

LP: Now, I know you’re not only passionate about great documentation, but you also commit a lot of your time outside of work to being a volunteer fire fighter and a surf life saver.  Can you tell us a bit about what motivated you to work with these particular organisations?

PVG:  I love to serve the community and receive great enjoyment out of helping others in their time of need, along with meeting different people from diverse backgrounds.  From a young age I embraced opportunities to learn new skills and to help others and these values have continued in my adult life.  Volunteering is a great way to increase knowledge and life skills as well as passing down critical knowledge and experiences to the younger generations through leadership and training programs.  This gives everyone life skills and a better understanding that, no matter what religion, race or cultural backgrounds you are from, you can still stand as one, together. Through Surf Life Saving my leadership skills and ability to strive for higher goals and overcome difficulties have been forged.  Volunteer Fire Rescue has given me the ability to identify risk and come up with the best possible solution in a timely manner.  In both organisations, I aim to provide the community with a safe environment so that the public can enjoy their surroundings.

LP: Thanks Peter.  On reflection, it’s really interesting to see the parallels forming between your roles professionally and in volunteering.  We look forward to seeing your progress over the coming months and years in the areas of documentation and construction.

At KPA Architects, we’re dedicated to creating environments that enhance people’s lives.


Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer

CONGRATULATIONS to all the team from Western Australian Leaders that entered and completed the Perth Ride for the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. You were put through very trying conditions over the weekend due to the weather. A massive achievement to ride the 200km’s.
KPA Architects is very proud of our own Marc Spadaccini who had been training and fundraising for this worthy cause, that is very close to home.
Congratulations Marc and team!