Tara Veldman on the future of healthcare design


As breakthroughs in medical science transform the future of patient care, so does architecture. Using what Billard Leece Partnership (BLP) has called “translational design”, our multidisciplinary teams of architects and researchers work closely with clinicians and patients, reimagining hospitals through art, nature, the community and the place.

The grounds include edible gardens, the kitchens are designed for families to cook together, and the bedrooms also accommodate parents who wish to stay with their children. It is an award-winning holistic approach that has a positive impact on patient well-being.

“Reframing what a hospital space is and should be,” says Dr Rebecca McLaughlan, a healthcare environment researcher at the University of Sydney, “is about putting things into the atmosphere that children don’t expect to see, so their focus can shift from their illness to things that seem much more exciting.

Over the past decade, the study of specialist healthcare has brought together the knowledge and design intuition of architects with evidence-based research and consultations with patients and clinicians that go directly to their current needs. and future.

It’s a methodology that BLP coined “translational design” and underpins our practice’s multidisciplinary studios in Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong; with state-of-the-art healthcare facilities completed in Hong Kong, Perth and Melbourne; two ongoing tertiary pediatric hospitals in Sydney – Westmead Children’s Hospital, and Sydney Children’s Hospital and Comprehensive Children’s Cancer Clinic at Minderoo, Randwick; and a recently completed specialist pediatric unit in the new Campbelltown Hospital.

Experience shows that the success of a project relies on articulating spaces by translating evidence and feedback from patients and staff. It’s a complex balance that, when everything works, creates spatial empowerment and empathy, and interiors that engage with art and nature, that are bright and flexible, and promote collective well-being with materials. warm and natural, subtly integrated medical equipment and finishes that are light years away. far from gray vinyl floors, white walls and institutional furniture. They feel less clinical, are calm and welcoming, and most importantly, blur the line between hospital and home.

“Positive distraction” and “atmospheric inclusivity” contribute to well-being, especially when children’s imaginations are fired. For children, play is not a one-time destination, but rather a way of life. Our approach, therefore, is to design spaces from the perspective of children and adolescents where play and therapy are intertwined, and where exploration and enjoyment are part of the healing process.

BLP’s strength in translating evidence-based research from multiple stakeholders into the physical environment has produced holistic places of healing, where the process of recovery is intrinsically linked to the minimization of stress, anxiety and pain, and the provision of a ‘home away from home’.

Our team includes trained nurses and healthcare planners who help designers create architecture that supports both the clinical and personal experience that is integral to unpacking the complexity of the modern hospital and pathways healing for the patient and his family.

At Perth Children’s Hospital, colour, shape and scale de-stigmatize clinical spaces by making them fun, inclusive and engaging. The bedrooms have lowered window seats and visual treats at eye level, while the seats are not just for sitting, but for climbing, hiding and exploring and the bedrooms allow siblings or friends to hang out. undertake care together.

In Hong Kong, the research team recognized that cooking was a very important part of family life. Kitchen spaces have therefore been integrated to allow parents and grandparents to bring food and prepare a meal for their children. While art has taken the form of a puzzle and the adventure for children consists in finding all the pieces that are scattered in the building.

For the award-winning design of Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, BLP was inspired by architect Alvar Aalto’s “transparent” Helsinki House and its connection to nature, spending time documenting the adjacent Royal Park and atmosphere native bush.

Most rooms have a view of the park and all windows have glass shades that allow the activity in the park below to be seen from the patient’s bed. Other research has drawn on Reggio Emilia pedagogical theory and the importance of arousing a child’s curiosity.

Distractions here include a two-story coral reef aquarium, a meerkat enclosure, and an installation by artist Alex Knox that keeps kids of different ages absorbed. To understand the impact, a research team from the University of Melbourne obtained the views of 250 patients who described the colors and brightness of spaces as creating “a happy, more warm and welcoming environment” where children feel safe (McLaughlan & Willis, 2022).

Our design for Children’s Hospital, Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital Stage One and Minderoo Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Center was co-created with clinicians, researchers, patients, children, families and carers, in a rapid, collaborative and specialized. for individualized care.

BLP approached each project with both creative and technical expertise, designing with head and heart to shape a purpose-built, playful and supportive environment for children and their families. Key features of Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick include the ‘backyard’ as a nature-filled social space to gather with family and pets, hang out at the cafe or watch a movie outdoors air.

With families and research staff often on site 24/7, the compound will have extended hours to match, transforming the experience throughout the day and evening. As the second stage of Westmead Children’s Hospital engages biophilic design principles to create an environment for patients, with natural light, a physical and visual connection to green spaces, as well as key learnings from other projects .

There is the integration of a communal kitchen for families, a welcoming green park at the front door, and brightly colored walkways and ramps to lead families into the heart of the hospital.

In contrast, the new Campbelltown Hospital uses many artworks co-created by the community and First Nations people to entertain and uplift all who visit, work and stay there. Spaces filled with continuous light work in harmony with detailed botanical graphics of local medicinal plants promoting well-being, healing, connection to the natural environment, while providing respite for children, patients, families and caregivers. personal.

Within the development of each project, the design process of the BLP team is highly collaborative. Visioning workshops during the intensive concept design phase are key to understanding the issues and aspirations from the perspective of the customer, including stakeholders, clinicians and patients, and are central to the human-centered approach that underpins BLP’s translational design methodology.

By fostering this crucial collaboration between design, research and evidence, we can overcome barriers to innovation to create a dynamic and open design process and, most importantly, projects where outcome matches intent.

Picture: provided


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