JCY Architects, Cox Architecture, Billard Leece Partners and HKS Inc have collaborated to design the Perth Children’s Hospital located in Perth, Australia.
A hospital visit can be a very daunting experience for a sick child. Hospitals are vast buildings, which are often associated with a bombardment of signs and other information, long endless corridors, noisy waiting areas, and those awful smells. It’s understandable how a child’s anxiety can increase significantly on their way to see a doctor. This is where Perth Children’s Hospital is different. The new Children’s Hospital will be among the best in the world, yet is uniquely Western Australian.
Driving along Winthrop Avenue, the animated lighting of artist Stuart Green’s “fizz” sculpture and the green façade instantly identifies the children’s hospital, a visual wonderland for families driving past at night. Vast areas of north facing glass enable the child and their family to catch a glimpse of the sculpted forms, artwork and play areas, reducing the anxiety of the child to their environment.
The design team’s starting point was to anchor the hospital in its unique surroundings. The nearby flora and fauna of King’s Park inspired a concept for the building based on petals and a stem. Everything from the journey into and through the hospital to the finest details have been considered and recalibrated for a child’s perspective; from lowered window seats to pops of colour and visual treats which are at the level of the child and for them alone, and may even be missed by the adults. The interiors are not themed as such, but designed as a series of destinations, with bright colours and organic shapes marking prominent landmarks along the way. The reception desks appear carved out of a single shiny warped form. The seating pod areas are not just for sitting, but for climbing, hiding and exploring. Geometric cut-outs (which double as window seats) mark the entry to each of the play therapy areas. The staff stations in each of the inpatient areas are designed as treehouses.
The atrium space at the heart of the hospital is a hive of activity and wonderment. It is easy to find the playful main reception desk inside the main entry. It has been designed so that there are no visual impediments to seeing even the smallest of children. Looking up into the atrium, suspended mobiles reflect sparkles of light through the space, providing a cascade of kinetic petals throughout the day, and the rolling and bulging forms of the balconies around the central space suggest a place of play rather than sickness.
More than 75 percent of the patient rooms are single rooms allowing the child and their family the privacy and control to own their room for the length of their stay in hospital. The room is also designed to reduce a child’s anxiety and is created from the perspective of a child in their bed. From here, the child can see out the window with some fantastic views, many of them across Kings Park and to the Swan River. There is a family zone under the window with enough space for a parent to stay overnight, and for siblings to play. At Perth Children’s Hospital, families are provided with an environment where parents are welcomed and made to feel at home with their child.
Caring for sick children requires a special kind of person; people who are patient, understanding and intelligent. It is important that these carers are also supported in an environment that offers them a safe (and efficient) work space where they can continue to develop and learn, along with stress reduction through amenities, respite areas, daylighting/views, exercise areas/access to the park, landscaping and rooftop gardens.
- project: Perth Children’s Hospital
- architecture firm: Billard Leece Partnership, Cox Architecture, HKS, JCY Architects
- location: Perth, Australia
- architects: JCY Architects, Cox Architecture, Billard Leece Partners and HKS Inc
- area/size: 8,39,585-sq.ft
- date of completion: 2018
- photography: Shannon McGrath