It Feels Like Home

June 1, 2023

Article originally published by Lauren Broomham for SATURDAY

What’s the secret to creating a vibrant seniors’ living community?

A great design that builds connections between residents, their families and the local community

– and a great team behind the scenes.

Image Credit: DCM Group

Walking into The Royce at Penrith in the heart of Western Sydney, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had walked into a hotel with its high ceilings, expansive foyer and welcoming concierge.

But behind the beautiful furnishings is a carefully thought-out design – and a team of passionate individuals – that have come together to create a warm, vibrant community that feels very much like home.

The Royce has been a labour of love for Bianca Tulich and her father Maurice, who were first introduced to the Penrith Panthers leagues club in 2009.

A community within a community

The Panthers Club was looking to create a vibrant precinct for its members and the local community – a place where residents could stay, play and eat.

“They wanted to create a community within a community and that’s what we’re all about, so we jumped at the chance to work with them,” said Bianca.

Pioneers of the co-located retirement village and aged care model, The Royce was the Tulich family’s first vertical development – and an opportunity to continue to break down those barriers between the two.

“[The development] is a testament to our architects Calderflower and builder Richard Crookes Construction who worked very closely with us to create a true sense of integration,” said Bianca.

“We want it to be a destination, and a community hub. Penrith already had those connections and foundations already, so we just hooked into that sense of community.”

In line with these aims, the central courtyard acts as a meeting point between the village and aged care home – where you frequently see the aged care residents meeting family, walking around the gardens or heading to breakfast in the café.

Image Credit: DCM Group

Image Credit: DCM Group

Colours and furnishings also delineate the different spaces throughout the village, such as the library and the bar, creating smaller, more intimate places for residents to gather.

The striking foyer creates a space where people can meet or pass through, and the concierge – who works until midnight on weekdays and 10pm on weekends – can get to know the residents and their interests and connect them with each other.

“The Royce wouldn’t be The Royce without our team,” stated Bianca. “You can do a great fit out. But if you don’t have the right people, it won’t have the same impact.” 

Penrith Pride

Connection with the local community is also key to the buzzing atmosphere.

The building is spanned by several spaces that are open to the public, including ‘Café Royce’ – run by local chef Ross Dobson – which sees a steady stream of residents, their families and locals daily for breakfast and lunch as well as parties and business meetings.

Being part of the Panthers club precinct – and next to the Panthers training ground – in the footy-proud suburb also generates its own excitement among The Royce residents, who can be spotted wearing their Panthers jerseys with pride.

“It keeps our residents happy and gives them a sense of purpose,” said Bianca. “They’re proud of their home and the places where they can entertain their friends and family outside of their apartment.”

The other point of difference for The Royce is of course, Royce Simmons himself, the former Penrith Panther player turned village ambassador.

A legend in the local community, Royce and his wife are a mainstay at the village’s social events.

“Royce is an incredible man who has a great sense of community and friendship,” added Bianca. “His ethos is very similar to ours and he encourages us to support the community and our residents, which we do.”

A willingness to support

Having an adaptable design – and being responsive to the needs of the residents – has also been critical to building The Royce’s sense of community.

The gym was originally next to the hair and beauty salon, but the space was not particularly large, and the residents were interested in bringing in other activities.

The solution? Instead of leasing out some of its commercial spaces, the Tulich team opted to move the wellness centre to the commercial space and turn the gym into a now well-used shuffleboard room.

“You need to meet the market that you’re designing for, but have that flexibility to be adaptable,” advises Bianca.”

“You need multiple levels of offerings within your community that people can progress to as their needs change. But don’t be afraid to create something you’re passionate about because that comes out in the final product.”

“The Royce is a product of all those years of experience that we’ve had behind us, and it’s culminated in this beautiful, vibrant community – we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved here.”

Image Credit: DCM Group

Image Credit: DCM Group