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Dandenong Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Friday 16 Sep 2011

An escape in the city

All photographs by Gollings Photography 
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Suburban health facility offers sanctuary for those living with mental illness in Victoria 

This inviting composition is the newly completed Dandenong Hospital in Melbourne, Australia designed by Bates Smart in association with Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop. Located on the site of an existing outdated and outmoded acute mental health facility the organic structure poses two suburban street frontages and looks to enhance the quality of health services for those living with acute mental health issues in Victoria.

The architects took inspiration from Dutch models for Mental Health Design, with almost all interior volumes connected visually with external spaces however as the designers explain: “where this project differs is in the layering of large and small courtyards creating different external/internal spaces, bringing natural light and cross ventilation into an otherwise deep plan. This brings the benefits of promoting positive spatial experience that aids wellbeing, lifting the spirit.”

Slotting a medical facility seamlessly into a suburban environment presented the architects with a real challenge however the team created a defensive perimeter solution with the perception of public, semi-public and private interfaces to solve this complex issue. Large expanses of wooden facade are broken with a scattering a windows facing out onto the streetscape but the majority of external views face inwards to a reflective courtyard space.

In 2008, the initiation of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission by the Australian Government redefined medical standards nationwide. The Commission duly announced that ‘priority for improving access and equity [was] better care for people with serious mental illness’ and recommended ‘an expansion of sub-acute services in the community’. With one in five people now likely to experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime, intelligently-designed centres such as Dandenong Hospital are becoming all the more crucial.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Bates Smart and Whitefield McQueen Irwin Alsop

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