Text description provided by the architects. Melbourne architectural and urban design practice Lyons in association with Brisbane architects Conrad Gargett have completed the new Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia. The hospital is a specialist paediatric teaching hospital providing tertiary and quaternary health services to patients across Queensland. The twelve level 95,000m2 hospital is a significant new urban addition to Brisbane’s Southbank precinct.
It’s brightly coloured exterior, incorporating the green and purple coloration of the native Bougainvillea plantings in the adjacent parklands, speaks of a building designed for children. In its form and massing, it challenges the conventional model of podium and tower and delivers a medium rise, sculpted building with landscaped roofscapes.
The building is also highly functional and incorporates some of the world’s most advanced diagnostic, interventional and treatment facilities.
"Design work began with research into the genealogy and typology of the contemporary hospital. We studied hospitals from the 1980s though to the present day and saw these as being largely functionally driven and medico-centric in their planning", says Corbett Lyon of Lyons, Design Director on the LCCH project.
"The Queensland project was an opportunity to contest these prevailing paradigms; to radically rethink both the care model and the way in which the building might contribute to the city as a civic marker and as a touchstone for the Brisbane community".
The design uses a 'salutogenic' approach, incorporating design strategies which research has shown to directly support patient health and wellbeing; attributes such as clear wayfinding, connections to the outside, views of nature and providing a green and sustainable environment for patients and staff.
The design concept is based on the idea of a 'living tree'. 'This parti was developed in the early planning stages through a series of workshops with the hospital's users and stakeholders', say Lyons.
A network of double height spaces (branches) radiate from two vertical atria (trunks) in the centre of the plan. The branch spaces extend beyond the street lines to form a series of framing portals and external balconies where users can view the city. Each branch is oriented toward a key landmark in the surrounding city – to the high rise buildings of central Brisbane, to the adjacent parklands, to the distant mountains and to the Brisbane River. The branch spaces also serve to connect inside and outside and bring natural daylight into the building.
The vertical and horizontal spaces in the tree form comprise the principal public circulation system in the hospital. They create a mind map for the building and the framed external landmarks are used as a means of orientation within the building.
Two and three dimensional art is used extensively throughout the building to promote patient wellbeing and provide engaging distractions for young patients. A group of brightly coloured parrots inhabit the central atrium space and images of butterflies, beetles and insects are printed onto the timber panels which line the hospital’s public spaces.
The colours used on the outside and inside of the building are derived from the colours of the Queensland landscape. These include muted neutral colour tones found in the Queensland outback landscape together with the more vibrant colours of the State's exotic birds, rainforest butterflies and flora.
Access to green space is a key element of the design. Rooftop gardens, green walls, enclosed courtyard gardens and views to surrounding parklands all form part of the hospital's healing environment. The green roofs on the upper levels are used by patients, families and staff for passive and active recreation and are also used as part of the hospital's rehabilitation programs.