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SA senior living community garners acclaim with international industry leaders

San Sereno, an Auria Senior Living (Auria) community in the Johannesburg suburb of Bryanston, has taken top honours alongside four of its international counterparts as one of five winners of the Argentum 2020 Senior Living by Design Awards. Based in the USA, Argentum is America’s leading national association exclusively dedicated to supporting companies operating professionally managed, resident-centred senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. Argentum member-companies operate senior living communities offering assisted living, independent living, continuing care, and memory care services.

The annual Senior Living by Design Awards recognise architects, design firms and senior living providers who create quality senior living communities in innovative ways. Winners are selected by an independent panel of four judges from the fields of architecture, design and senior living. The judges are selected based on their extensive experience in various disciplines including interior design, architecture, innovation, operations, and resident care as they relate to senior housing. They evaluate each submission on aspects of design innovation and operational excellence in areas of memory care, local town/community engagement, family engagement, well building/sustainability, resident engagement, resident health and wellness, and/or resident safety.

Of the five winners of the Senior Living by Design Awards (2020), San Sereno was the only entry from outside the United States.

The award is a strong validation for the pioneering work that San Sereno’s developer and operator, Auria Senior Living, is doing in the senior living space in South Africa. The company aims to change what is on offer in the South African senior living space – setting a new standard with respect to the living environments themselves as well as what it means to grow older. “Our vision was to establish a new gold standard for senior living in South Africa, brought about by our dismay over the institutional and depressing environments created by conventional “retirement villages” in South Africa,” says Auria founder and CEO, Barry Kaganson. “Our aim with San Sereno was to provide a new, contemporary and luxurious approach to senior living design that was practical, yet aesthetically pleasing. We wanted to have a positive impact on residents’ lives through their daily experience of using and moving through the new spaces, and to ensure that they could enjoy their best quality of life. Every single day.”

San Sereno is what is internationally termed a “continuing care retirement community”, or CCRC. Based on the idea that most people would prefer to ‘age in place’, a CCRC is designed to operate as a single campus environment in which people have a continuum of living options available to them, ranging from completely independent living to varying degrees of assisted living, as well as nursing and dementia care. Even more important is the emphasis on providing an environment which promotes and supports quality of life for seniors, covering everything from physical wellness to social engagement and even life-long learning.

San Sereno, Auria’s flagship senior living community, was acquired in 2017 and extensively renovated to create the beautiful residence that it is today for over 350 residents. Set on a 33-acre site in the upmarket suburb of Bryanston, it comprises 214 independent living units (houses and apartments) as well as 50 assisted living units and a dementia care facility. Communal areas were extensive, yet dated.

“The facility we acquired was completed in the early 1990s and was in dire need of an upgrade. We wanted to transform the existing aged building into a world class, contemporary community which provides a luxurious and enticing living environment for residents, accommodates impaired movement and mobility, and provides all the necessary amenities within the rapidly changing senior living environment,” says Kaganson.

The renovation included a newly built café/bistro, formal restaurant, lounge, hair salon, indoor swimming pool, cinema, yoga/Pilates studio and gym. The new building wing capitalised on the views over the lawn-bowling green, while a new card room, billiard room, library and concierge area was created by reconfiguring the existing internal layout. The new buildings ensures that residents have an appealing environment that they can be proud of, while allowing them to engage in stimulating activities, delicious meals and a wealth of exciting events.

San Sereno was renovated as a ‘live site’ – with residents continuing to occupy it as it underwent its transformation. This necessitated careful planning and design, including the off-site manufacturing of many components. Disruption to residents was minimised as much as possible, and the remodelled spaces have proven that it was worth any inconvenience – they are well used and enjoyed.

According to Argentum, a strong theme in this year’s submissions was design for well-being, an already strong trend in senior living. Argentum’s own press statement notes that “designs had a variety of options in outdoor spaces, seamless indoor-outdoor transitions, and flexible gathering places that could adapt to the changing needs of residents and the times. In addition, art, water features, natural materials and landscaping, and spa-like touches abounded. Overall, the impression was one of communities where vitality and serenity co-exist.”

James Balda, President and CEO of Argentum, extended his personal congratulations to Auria on being a winner. “It is communities such as yours that continue to drive the industry forward,” he said.  In Argentum’s official press statement, he also commented: “As the judges note, these designs are focused on bringing the best of senior living forward. The wide variety of types of communities as well as the breadth of locations represented among the recipients showcases the choice and quality offered in senior living today.”

“The impact of this project will be felt far beyond its boundaries, as it ushers in a new typology for senior living in South Africa,” said Senior Living by Design judge Cynthia Shonaiya, principal at U.S. architecture and design firm Hord Coplan Macht. “The spaces are beautiful and liveable,” added another judge, Bruce Hurowitz – principal at Merlino Design Partnership.

“We are proud and honoured to have received this award. It shows that we can indeed change the face of the industry in the South African context, and provide places in which seniors can grow older with dignity and enjoyment in environments that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world” says Kaganson.

The Senior Living by Design Award winners are published annually in Senior Living Executive magazine. The latest edition can be viewed at

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About Auria Senior Living

Auria Senior Living (Auria) develops, owns and manages a portfolio of senior living communities throughout South Africa. Auria is setting a new benchmark in continuing-care community living for the over-70s, providing for the intellectual, emotional, social and physical needs of its residents, in attractive and well-located environments.

The company’s flagship is San Sereno in Bryanston, and it is currently upgrading and renovating Melrose Manor in Melrose, due to be completed by end-2020. Its latest project, Royal View, is a 122 apartment senior living development on the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington golf course, due to open at the end of 2021, with sales commencing in mid-2020.

For more information on Auria Senior Living visit:, or contact 087 654 8833.

Press Contact:

Mantis Communications

Kerry Simpson

Tel: 079 438 3252