International Interior Design Award, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
Melbourne’s new $1 billion (Aus) Royal Children’s Hospital, unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II was Designed by joint venture between Billard Leece Partnership and Bates Smart Architects (BLBS), with US-based HKS as international advisors. The RCH received the ‘International Interior Design Award’ at the 2012 Emirates Glass LEAF Awards, which took place during this year’s London Design Festival.
RCH is based on state-of-the- art ideas developed by the hospital around a family-centred care model that puts children and their families at the centre of the facility. Using innovative and evidence-based design principles, the RCH reflects changing healthcare practices, workplace patterns, user expectations, community aspirations and environmental responsibility.
The therapeutic benefits of nature in healing underpin the overall design. The design story is derived from forms, patination and colour mapped from the natural world to form an enriching and restorative environment for children, staff and the public. Through investigating the textures, forms and colours of the surrounding Royal Park, a unique aesthetic language formed a new benchmark for hospital design, demonstrating how healthcare spaces infused with nature can speak to children. Considered detailing invites the human touch, respectfully acknowledges the child and provides a safe environment while deinstitutionalising the hospital genre. The approach to colour is intrinsically linked to the way finding strategy, celebrating the landscapes which make up the state of Victoria. Colours derived from the environment define each level; applied in a coordinated approach from signage through to environmental graphics, paint, joinery, vinyl, furniture and soft furnishings, resulting in engaging and coherent, joyful and uplifting interiors.
At the heart of the facility is the six storey atrium and main street, a naturally lit public thoroughfare that links the elements of the hospital. A truly civic space, the Main Street seamlessly integrates with the parkland through natural light and use of natural materials. The calming effects of nature are immediately apparent upon entry to the hospital, and a collection of engaging distractions allow families and staff moments of wonder. The two-storey coral reef aquarium, major installations by Australian artists, a meerkat enclosure managed by Melbourne Zoo and interactive video screens make an otherwise stressful visit to the hospital something special.
The interior design approach was born from the basic premise that nature and art can make children better, quicker, and provide a better environment for staff and visitors. Everything, with particular regard to the selection of colour, materials and detailing, considered this. Evidence based design adds objectivity to the design process, bypassing the traps of style and fashion.