Environments for Aging is introducing a new monthly Online Focus feature that compiles recent coverage on targeted topics to help readers quickly get up to speed on pressing issues or refresh themselves on latest trends. For spring, we focus on design solutions that deliver access to the outdoors.

Nature plays a critical role in all of our lives, so it’s important senior living communities are designed with that in mind. Below, you’ll find project profiles on communities that introduced nature-inspired solutions in interesting ways, such as a memory care community that allows residents free access to an outdoor courtyard and a hospice designed to allow patient beds to be wheeled out to a balcony.

However, beyond simply providing access, other examples found in recent projects offer ideas on how to up the ante on outdoor areas, creating true destinations for activities or relaxation.

Click on the links below to explore some of the design solutions being introduced at various community types and inspiration for how you may apply some of them to your next project.

  • Exterior Expectations: How To Design Outdoor Spaces
    Outdoor spaces have become an integral part of senior living communities, as owners, developers, and architects realize the added value of recreational amenities as differentiating factors that may help a senior choose one particular site over another.
  • PHOTO TOUR: The Springs At The Hacienda At The River
    The Hacienda at the River, a 7.5-acre campus in Tucson, Ariz., provides access to fresh air and natural light, with operable windows providing cross ventilation and views of nearby mountains.
  • PHOTO TOUR: Heron’s Key
    The design of Heron’s Key, a continuing care retirement community in Gig Harbor, Wash., is inspired by harborside villages in Scandinavia and Croatia.
  • Close To Home
    T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center in Dallas brings a new vision for end-of-life care.
  • PHOTO TOUR: The Cottage at Cypress Cove
    The Cottage at Cypress Cove in Fort Myers, Fla., encourages residents to go outside with a tropical courtyard and garden complete with lush landscaping.
  • EFA Expo: 5 Ideas To Design For The Senses
    As design teams look for more ways to improve senior living communities, many are turning to biophilic design principals to provide residents more contact with nature.
  • FIRST LOOK: Sonata West
    Sonata West’s design incorporates every inch of the site to maximize the residents' connection with the outdoors and enhance wellness and lifestyle programming.
  • Abe’s Garden Pushes Memory Care Boundaries
    Abe’s Garden in Nashville represents a huge departure from traditional memory care programs, including a central courtyard, backyard grill, and doors that open freely to the outdoors.
  • Award Of Merit Project Serves As Town Center
    Active adult community Brickstone by St. John’s is designed to blend into the surrounding community that goes well beyond aesthetics.
  • FIRST LOOK: Aegis Gardens
    Aegis Gardens is a new senior housing development that will incorporate Chinese culture into its design to create a welcoming place for long-term residential care.
  • Designing A Heart-healthy Garden
    While the relationship between landscape architecture and cardiac health may not be immediately obvious, there are important lessons that each discipline can learn from the other, especially in long-term care.