ThomsonAdsett is excited to welcome Simon Drysdale as Group Director – Seniors Living. Simon is extremely passionate about challenging the status quo within this sector and delving into the key issues around ‘longer living’.
Simon will spearhead innovative design in retirement living and aged care across all of ThomsonAdsett’s Australian and international studios.
He brings more than two decades of experience to ThomsonAdsett, having delivered a range of projects from the small and bespoke to large greenfield urban interventions. Simon has worked on various scales of retirement living and residential aged care projects across Australia and overseas.
The evolution of ‘longer living’
People are now living longer and are far more educated in respect to design than ever before. Simon believes the future success of retirement living lies in an ability to adapt to the changing demands of the sector and really understand what buyers want.
Thanks to technology, Simon believes we’re seeing a narrowing of the divide between seniors and our younger people.
“There are many advances in technology that have the power to enhance the experience of retirement living and strengthen community relationships,” he says.
“We already see environmental monitoring such as movement detectors, circadian lighting, robotics, and avatar buddy technology moving more into the mainstream.”
According to Simon, an increasing number of young architects are expressing real interest in how our elders live. This coincides with the trend toward inclusive multi-age precincts that weave retirement living options into conventional development offers such as retail.
“Up and coming designers are increasingly passionate about contributing – they’re concerned about mental health and they want to design projects with social, ecological and community outcomes where lots of different elements are merged together. They are also one of the first generations with first-hand experience of family elders living longer than those before,” he says.
Prior to embarking on a career in architecture, Simon studied nursing — an experience he regularly draws upon when approaching seniors living projects and promoting the need for better care architecture. For Simon, it’s imperative he puts the needs of residents at the centre of his human-centred design process.
“In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it was confronting for me to see some of the poor conditions in which our seniors were living. I would often see a much younger resident caught in the residential age system without age-specific needs being considered,” Simon says.
“Those memories compel me to always work from a lens of empathy, with opportunities as the focus, not just problems.
“Today, one main driver in my professional life is to strive to improve how the experience of architecture can provide a better quality of life.”
Simon’s new role with ThomsonAdsett, along with his ongoing association with RMIT University, enables him to continue his love of mentoring new talent, create practical industry research outcomes and deliver a genuine “do better” attitude in seniors living design.