Silver Thomas Hanley's uses light and colour as their main elements in the creation of Sunshine Hospital Radiation Therapy Centre
The Sunshine Hospital Radiation Therapy Centre, designed by Silver Thomas Hanley was completed this year as part of a $146 million (AUD) 2 stage campus redevelopment. The $40.5 million (AUD) centre has capacity for 4 linear accelerators, 2 computed tomography scanners and an orthovoltage machine and now serve public patients from Melbourne's west who previously had to travel long distances to access vital radiotherapy.
Silver Thomas Hanley envision the centre to be a 'beacon' of the hospital campus - metaphorically this is expressed as a rainbow curved wall at the main entry for its symbolic connotation with hope; and physically the prominent wall serves as a signifier to the entry, visible from the approach by car or foot. Building orientation anticipates the masterplan vision - a main hospital street running parallel to the north-eastern face of the centre, links it with the redeveloped hospital campus.
The main health planning principle is the conceptual grouping of treatment zones & staff areas and their strategic placement along axial corridors for clear wayfinding. Spatial configuration is further developed based upon sequential patient processes. Cancer patients are vulnerable so travel distances from waiting to treatment nodes are minimised to manage their anxiety.
The centre is designed to facilitate vertical expansion of 3 levels above and 2 additional bunkers horizontally to provide future comprehensive cancer care. Apart from structural considerations, spatial layout has built-in flexibility with soft space (admin & staff facilities) allowing for future clinical expansion.
The facades of the rectilinear mass are articulated by juxtaposing elements of polished concrete, terracotta wall tiles, zinc cladding and double grey glass - all warm and earthy finishes in a human scale that appears less imposing to visitors. The 6 metres high above ground concrete bunkers are visually broken up into highlight white concrete panels above and terracotta tiles below. The deep cast-in pattern on the panel showcases the stark Australian sunlight is an abstracted sunburst motif, inspired by the name of the suburb/ hospital on which the centre is built.
Particular emphasis is given to creating facades that promote ease of maintenance and recurrent cost benefits. Graffiti and other forms of vandalism is a concern in this area - robust and hardwearing materials like masonry and terracotta tiles skirt the lower surfaces, while highly finished materials such as polished concrete and zinc cladding are placed well above head height.
The entry foyer greets the visitors with an uplifting double volume space with bountiful sunlight streaming in through clerestory windows and a curtain glass wall. These are placed at locations where they open to a private garden restricted to the building, thus avoiding a ‘fishbowl' effect. Outside, the garden is a place to reflect and engage with sculptures and planting, fenced by an inverted curve detailed in similar cladding as the main wall to maintain visual continuation. The interior white curved wall that defines the waiting area bears strong contrast to its external finish of shimmering aluminium colour bands, and through the glazing slots let in streams of defused coloured sunlight to complete the picture of a calm, reassuring and welcoming environment.
Positive distractions are employed through the facility in various forms. Entry maze into each bunker is furnished with coloured fabric panelling that draws one into the treatment area with backlit ceiling panels that mimic skylights with differing nature themes.
Pockets of gowned sub-waits with separate change areas are deliberately kept small and intimate with soft lighting, fabric wall panelling and low ceiling to calm patients. Framed views to private garden from each sub-wait also offer solace to unsettling minds.