Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Lyons’ design for new women’s and children’s hospital aims to reduce stress

Aug 26, 2019
  • Article by Natalie Mortimer

Lyons has designed a new hospital in Melbourne’s west, which is a lesson in salutogenic hospital design.

Located within the Sunshine Hospital campus, the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital has been designed to reduce stress and enhance the experience of patients and families.

The nine-storey design accommodates wide-ranging facilities including a birthing floor comprising 20 birthing suites and four birthing pools, out-patient clinics, imaging facilities, operating theatres, a special-care nursery (including a neonatal intensive care unit), a short-stay paediatric ward, and new inpatient wards.

For patients who reside in regional towns, the hospital also provides designated rooms for overnight accommodation.

Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital

In the special-care nursery, cool shades of green help to create a soothing environment within what can be a high-pressure part of the hospital. Elsewhere, personal touches, like the addition of day beds for patients’ loved ones, are designed to make families feel at home.

Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital

A repetition of geometry can be seen throughout the hospital, which Lyons associate and co-designer Lucinda Arundel explains: “A circular motif has been used to represent layered meanings of life cycles, organic formations, spectrums and community circles and this has been encoded across the interior from the structural floorplates, flooring, joinery and bulkheads, right through to lily pads for children to sit on.”

In addition to serving as a contrast to the hospital’s rectangular façade, the circles also act as an internal navigation aid.

“Patients and family members can literally ‘join the dots’ to locate wards via a simple colour code,” she adds.

Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Outside, the building’s colourful façade aims to fulfil client Western Health’s aspiration to provide the community with a hospital that is “both contextual and joyful”.

“We extensively photographed the area, sampled pixels and then reflected those tones within the façade,” Arundel says. “The lower green levels reflect gardens of the region, whilst higher up we’ve used orange to represent the suburb’s tiled roofs and, yet further up the façade, we’ve used tones indicative of a cloudscape.”

Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital

For Lyons director Corbett Lyon, the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital marks a return to the Sunshine Hospital campus; almost twenty years ago, Corbett led the Lyons team responsible for the award-winning design of a new multilevel ward building at the hospital.

“Decades on, I am still convinced a building can be both functional and a wonderful work of architecture,” Lyon says. “Within the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital, you’ll find a multitude of design efficiencies but it’s also a very welcoming place that promotes and supports wellbeing for patients, their families and all of the people who work in the building.”

Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Lyon, also a professor at the University of Melbourne, is known for his commitment to elevating the design of Australia’s medical facilities. Currently, he is part of a University of Melbourne research team that is investigating the impact of the design of paediatric hospitals on the experience of patients, parents and staff.

Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital

The outcome of this research will be the creation of a set of design guidelines for architects and Government agencies striving to create more supportive care environments for Australian children and families.

Photography by Dianna Snape

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