Rice Daubney designs a patient-centred, holistic and integrated cancer care facility envisioned by Professor Chris O'Brien
The Chris O'Brien Lifehouse at RPA is an innovative new Integrated Cancer Centre to be built on the campus of the existing Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney NSW, representing a unique integration of private services onto a public tertiary campus. Lifehouse will provide clinical care, research and education to ensure better outcomes for everyone living with cancer. The centre will treat public and private patients alike and be a non-for-profit benevolent institution.
Lifehouse will be a patient centred, integrated facility, providing a broad clinical service including ambulatory care, intervention, treatment and in-patient accommodation. The design will facilitate parallel therapies including an Integrated Medicine unit. The centre is conceived in the vision of the late Professor Chris O'Brien, an internationally recognised Surgeon and Oncologist who headed up the Sydney Cancer Centre at RPA. It is his unique vision and legacy which is the major differentiator for Lifehouse, and the driving force for the conceptual and detailed design of the facility.
The site is set within important heritage fabric. Innovative stacking and efficient planning limits the overall building height. Massing is aimed at reducing perceived bulk. Façade articulation reflects the solar exposure of the long east and west façades. The glazed north east corner is the focus for the entry and reflects the surrounding heritage fabric.
The planning arrangement is simple - two functional zones aligned along the east and west boundaries with a central zone around a dramatic full height atrium - the focus of the circulation and orientation of the design. This reflects the conceptual approach to a somewhat inward facing 'sanctuary' rather than an introverted imposing medical facility. Vertical circulation is separated into two cores with glazed public lifts running through the central atrium. This central space is the spiritual heart of Lifehouse. Incorporating a dramatic artwork it will be the focus of the sanctuary - a spiritual space that will provide discrete glimpses into the operation of the facility whilst facilitating coincidental interactions between researchers, clinicians and patients.
Clinical relationships and stacking maximise clinical efficiency without compromise to the patient experience. Ambulatory services are arranged over the open lower 3 levels with the interventional unit above. Integrated Medicine is easily accessible to all users on the entry level. Research and education facilities are located mid height with the inpatient facilities, including the ICU, enjoying the best outlook and roof- top healing gardens.
The facility incorporates tri-generation and achieves an Australian 4 green star ESD rating. All inpatient rooms have access to natural ventilation through balcony doors carefully designed to provide amenity without compromising patient safety. Lifehouse has a significant commitment to efficiency and ongoing Facilities Management to facilitate this all documentation will be completed in BIM.
The design focuses on patient centred care as a totally holistic experience. Without compromise to clinical efficiencies emphasis is placed on 'soft spaces' such as circulation routes, waiting areas and private patient spaces. Patient rooms have access to healing gardens and spectacular views. Patient spaces are planned to maximise natural light, with natural material selected and non-clinical ambience.
The Integrated Medicine Centre provides parallel therapies and has a broader cancer community focus, not dissimilar to the concept of the well-known Maggie's Centres. Rice Daubney'scommitment to the client is a design based on a research informed response. This has included extensive research visits to Europe and North America, including client and key clinician representation. Stantec Architecture is appointed as international collaborators for benchmarking and review of the design.
A particular emphasis of the research has been around circulation strategies and overall grossing factors. Stakeholder engagement has been paramount and a unique innovation has seen the creation of two cancer patient user groups representing different age demographics, with an on-going role through the development of the design. Lifehouse has provided a broad representation for the user group process with expert representation from existing departments within RPA, the University of Sydney and other Research Groups.