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Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, United States

Monday 30 Apr 2012

An 'unselfconscious' children's hospital

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Hospital design reflects a child's experience of nature as a source of healing 

While the brief required the addition of 200 pediatric beds, with associated imaging, surgery, recovery, lobby and support functions, the client requested ‘an unselfconscious building’ that respected the family-centered atmosphere, residential scale and integration of nature found in the existing facilities while creating a state-of –the-art, efficient, innovative and sustainable pediatric hospital. Our response to the appeal for an ‘unselfconscious’ building was to begin with the design of the patient experience rather than the building itself, emphasising a child’s understanding of nature as an integral part of a unique healing environment.

Upon arrival, patients and their families follow a ‘journey’ through a series of exterior and interior spaces that create an intuitive, supportive and comfortable experience that consistently relates to surrounding natural environments. The form of the building defines five distinct garden spaces related to entry, public, family, meditation and staff that link the existing hospital courtyard to the Stanford Arboretum to the east. A series of sinuous stone ‘landscape’ walls lead visitors through these spaces, from a new main entry to a two-storey lobby and past a chapel on the first floor to the existing hospital. All of these spaces are arranged along a linear ‘technology spine’ that organises stairs, elevators, shafts and MEP systems.

The connection with nature is carried to the 24-bed patient wings, where each room has a lowered window sill that allows a direct view of an exterior planter with native vegetation as well as unobstructed views to the surrounding landscape. This is supported by an articulated solar-shading facade that supports displacement ventilation systems and helps break down the overall scale of the building. Terraces at each floor give patients families and staff direct access to the outdoors and a simple exterior palette reflects the local sandstone and terracotta tiles of adjacent Stanford campus.

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