The Royal Children’s Hospital by Billard Leece Partnership and Bates Smart
Public Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
The Royal Children’s Hospital, set within Melbourne’s Royal Park, is a state-of-the-art, world-class facility designed around a family-centred care model that promotes a restorative and healing environment for children and their families. With an evidence-based design showing the importance and value of nature in the healing process, the hospital exploits its park location.
The natural textures, forms and colours of the surrounding parkland inform the material expression. Nature speaks to the child and provides a therapeutic backdrop for visitors. The use of narrow footprints for clinical buildings enables natural light to enter all corners of the facility, while the slope of the site entwines the hospital with its park setting, linking on three levels.
Coloured “leaf” blades along Flemington Road are fabricated in curved panels, providing protection from the sun and creating a shimmering organic structure and identity for the hospital. At the heart of the facility is the six-storey “Main Street,” a naturally lit public thoroughfare with views of the parkland beyond that links all the elements of the hospital.
The complex is large in scale; however, a collection of attractions is contained within — these amuse and distract, and provide a user-friendly environment that includes a two-storey aquarium, large-scale artworks and places to eat and meet with family, colleagues or friends. The jury found this to be an environment intuitive to its user groups, which include patients, their families and carers. The hospital’s bold use of art and installations, including its mini zoo of meerkats, and its sensitive provision of contemplative, respite and recreational areas, make this a holistic and therapeutic architectural project.