At work Down Under...

Monday 09 May 2011

HASSELL, STH & Hames Sharley design Western Australia's flagship health facility

The brief required a facility to provide a nurturing healthcare environment. A patient-centric service delivering care in the most user friendly manner to southern Perth and acting as a hub for state wide tertiary services. Detailed precedent and site investigation combined with extensive staff, community and stakeholder consultation and a shared team vision have created an original and exciting development unique to Western Australia.

The building design is inspired by the natural bushland setting. The core hospital is massed into three distinct components: the podium; central spine; and ward towers. This reflects the planning approach, supports the wayfinding strategy and promotes an identity unique to its setting.

The imagery of the bush and its native flora are reflected in the differing strata of the elevational treatment to the podium. Exposed concrete columns and shading fins represent the mature and young bushland growth, connecting areas of solid cladding and glazed 'voids' that represent the canopy. This idea continues through to the interior. The central spine connects all key facilities and provides access via lifts to the ward towers. Its roof is punctuated with apertures designed to provide a filtered dappled light to the space echoing the effect of the tree canopy.

Ward facades are inspired by the Banksia flowers unique to this location. A repeating geometric diamond pattern with projecting canopies mirroring the open seed pods and providing solar shading to the bedrooms behind. They can be seen from afar and provide a unique memorable identity for the hospital.

The application of evidence based design (EBD) elements to the healthcare environment presented the opportunity for the team to explore innovative concepts, interactions and ways of connecting space, light, colour, views and the outdoor environment to achieve a positive experience for the patient, their family, staff and visitors with the goal of improving clinical outcomes. Floors are penetrated by a network of accessible landscaped courtyards and open ended corridors defining the building massing, offering external access and views and orientating the user within the footplate. Efficient utilisation of human resources and retention of high quality clinical personnel is encouraged by creating an environment that promotes and enables collaborative work practices, flexibility, efficiency and productivity.

With careful minimisation of building footprints and the maintenance of flora and fauna in sensitive areas, the hospital works towards a balanced ecology in urban development. The presence of the protected Carnabys Cockatoo on the site led to the retention of a swathe of natural bushland. During site clearance mature trees were salvaged, seeds collected and cuttings taken for propagation. These will be returned to site and contribute to creating a natural setting.

Informal gathering spaces, contemplation points and wander paths combine with landscape courtyards and roof gardens creating a rich and unique sense of place. Buildings are designed on the basis of sustainable first principles by maximising passive design elements and combining them with complementary active systems.

This project is designed by The Fiona Stanley Hospital Design Collaboration, comprising HASSELL, STH & Hames Sharley.

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