A Space that Makes a Difference: Maygrove Retirement Village

A Space that Makes a Difference: Maygrove Retirement Village

What does it take to breathe new life into a community? At Maygrove Retirement Village, it began with a simple yet powerful idea: to create spaces where residents could thrive, connect, and feel truly at home.

Maygrove’s leaders knew it was time for a refresh, so they engaged Spaceworks for the design and Datum for the fit-out of a new space. After thorough consultations with residents and a collaborative implementation process, the first phase of the project was completed in 2023 and was met with overwhelming praise and excitement from the residents.

It’s been a highly unique project for everyone involved. Here’s how it all unfolded.

A people-centric design

The hallways you navigate, the dining areas where you take meals, the rooms that naturally become places for greetings, for relaxing, and for connecting with the people you love – all these spaces play an enormous part in our lives. And even something as simple as bad lighting, poor acoustics, weathered walls, or a poorly designed layout can get in the way.

In many ways, this was the reality for Maygrove Retirement in Ōrewa, where a 20-year-old space wasn’t reflecting the openness and care of the staff and residents who inhabited it. As a result, the communal areas weren’t being used, residents preferred to meet relatives away from the Village, and the energy felt low when you walked through the doors. 

It was time to breathe new life into these tired spaces, and make them warmer and more welcoming.

Engaging the residents

This redesign wasn’t just about improving a space – it was about improving and honouring the home of 240 residents in the building.

Nicki Brady, Senior Designer at Spaceworks, understood completely the need to consult directly with Maygrove’s residents to get the best design possible. “It was very important to know how residents felt about the current space, and what they would value in the new one,” she explains. The consultation process started with a survey covering everything from how residents used and interacted with different services on offer to what aspects of common areas mattered most.

But the information gathering was just the beginning. “We discussed pros and cons in a workshop with key residents and leaders. Presenting this big of a change wasn’t easy for many, and so we sat everyone down and went through questions one by one until everyone felt completely clear and comfortable. It was important to make sure that everyone felt heard through the design process.”

The vision was for a more welcoming, warmer environment across the common areas. Ruth Scandrett, General Manager at Hopper Living, the parent organisation of Maygrove, explains, “We wanted to recreate the heart of the village, transform it into a place where people really wanted to spend time.”

By the end of Nicki’s session with all of Maygrove’s stakeholders, there was no doubt the community was in good hands with Spaceworks and Datum. “At the end of this meeting,” says Ruth, “one of the residents said, ‘I could marry you! This design will be amazing’.” 

Keeping the door open through the fit-out

When it was time for the fit-out to begin, Datum went the extra mile to be as communicative and unobtrusive as possible for the residents.

They knew how important it was to everyone to be part of their building’s story – so they set up a camera to broadcast the live installation progress. Ruth reflects, “This involvement and sharing meant so much to our residents. We got to see what was happening, stay involved every step of the way.”

Working in an operating retirement village naturally comes with a few challenges, and Datum needed to be very aware of how loud noises, installations, and timing would affect the people living nearby in the village. To help manage this, Datum worked with the Maygrove staff to provide updates about when different loud or confronting work would occur so that residents could plan ahead.

“Datum were simply fantastic. They really understood us, and understood that they were working in a live setting, and handled it very well,” says Ruth. “They helped continue the connections that Spaceworks had built, and it was clear they took pride in the project.”

A true heart of the village

The results and feedback on the project has been overwhelming. Nicki shares a few of her favourite snippets from residents when asked about the new space:

“I feel so proud to have my family come. We’ve booked in a regular breakfast now once a month.”


“It was beyond expectation.”


“They really listened to us.”


The space feels fresh, warm, inviting – and the details like better acoustics and natural lighting have made an enormous difference. Ruth explains why this means so much to the people of Maygrove:

“You always look for the outcomes of a project. But this goes beyond outcomes, and leads to a very real-world impact. Our community, their relatives and friends, our staff – this change means that they have a space they’re proud of, a space that’s now full of life and chatter and people spending more quality time together instead of in their units. 

We’ve seen grandchildren coming to visit more often. We have families spending time in the cafe here. There have been so many more functions, smaller gatherings, birthdays, memorials, everything – and that brings us all closer together.”

[PHOTOS – credit to Spaceworks]