Connecting with the Community heart at MACS
Within the heart of MACS there is the piazza and it is, by anyone’s measure, far more than a “paved pedestrian space.” It’s a landscape of rich texture and visual variety and it resonates with potential for exploration where people can navigate it with ease and familiarity. When opening the piazza, Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove predicted that it would bustle with energy, friendship, diversity and enthusiasm. And how right he was. Residents, families, friends and staff from many different backgrounds gather there. They mingle, sip coffee, down scones and tea on outside tables, shop and warmly chat.
Backing on to the piazza, there’s the MACS’ multi-faith, Tuscan-coloured sandstone chapel; its arched leadlight stained glass windows shimmer into the space. There is a view to the sky that keeps changing right from the entry. The centerpiece is a three-tiered, Italian-inspired marble fountain; a Bell Tower chimes between two streets lined with boutique style shop-fronts. Smaller wall fountains even edge the walls. To date, the piazza has a bakery, café, hairdresser, boutique and even a landscaped, reflective garden that supports game playing such as chess by large easy–to-move pieces.
Whilst grand piazzas such as Rome’s Piazza Navona were designed for games and athletics, they still bustle with lively social interactions. Even after being in existence from the first century. Piazza Navona is surrounded by bars, eateries and shops. Social interaction is there for all to connect with others and nurture a sense of well-being.
And social play in a piazza makes sense for older persons. Like everyone else, older persons are not all the same; they too have a range of needs and preferences. For reasons such as mobility or cognitive function, they may not all choose to access a large active space such as a sprawling, draughty open park.
Walking has been identified as one of the most popular forms of exercise amongst older people. Yet, sharp gradient changes, loose ground cover or slippery path surfaces can hinder access to enjoyment of open space environments. In the MACS’ piazza, walking on the flat-surfaced, Saint Tropez cream French-pattern pavers without steps, goes a long way to promote this healthy pastime. And soon there will be a perimeter walkway that will have seating and exercise options.
But if that isn’t enough socializing for some, on 31 March 2017 there will be another grand feature to add to MACS piazza. Perhaps it will be grand enough even for the Piazza Navona. From the Melbourne Recital Centre, the award-winning superb Melbourne Guitar Quartet (MGQ) will be playing two concerts in MACS’ Piazza for our Residents and Home Services Consumers. It’s a vibrant ensemble dedicated to playing chamber music repertoire for the guitar. It will include the Guitar Family of instruments (classical bass guitar, baritone guitar, standard guitar, treble guitar and octave guitar). The group is described as a dynamic, unique theatrical on-stage musical act. The quartet will play selections from Vivaldi and Rodrigo.
“The Melbourne Guitar Quartet are a brilliant addition to Australia’s musical landscape. Their combination of innovative arrangements and superb ensemble playing is a joy to listen to. This is exactly what the classical guitar world needs.” – Slava Grigoryan – Famed Classical Guitar Virtuoso and Director of the Adelaide International Guitar Festival ( as per MgQ Melbourne Guitar Quartet, bio, Melbourne Recital Centre, 2017)
Guidelines for Planning for Older People in Public Open Space
By Wendy Sarkissian and Beauford Stenberg