Northern Beaches Hospital — a new model of health care

Friday, 09 November, 2018

Northern Beaches Hospital — a new model of health care

The first hospital in NSW to achieve a 4 Star Green Star rating, the much anticipated Northern Beaches Hospital combines practicality and elegance.

The Northern Beaches Hospital is a new state-of-the-art tertiary hospital that navigates the requirements of sophisticated clinical services delivery while providing an environment that fosters dependability, security and optimism for patients, a positive and encouraging workplace for staff, and a meaningful and connected new civic building for the local community.

The first hospital in NSW to achieve a 4 Star Green Star rating (design, build and operation), the Northern Beaches Hospital is a 488-bed metropolitan facility providing a range of services including emergency, interventional, intensive care, high dependency, coronary care, day surgery, medical imaging, birthing, special care nursery, paediatric inpatient, public and private inpatient units, renal dialysis and day medical facilities, outpatients, medical centre, specialist consulting suites, mental health unit, clinical and non-clinical support.

The NSW Government contracted Healthscope to design, construct, operate and maintain the new Northern Beaches Hospital, which is a public and private hospital combined in one integrated facility. BVN Architecture and CPB Contractors were key partners in the design and development of the hospital, which was delivered on time and on budget.

Central atrium with artwork and circular skylights.

Hospital architecture

Hospital architecture is not just a matter of constructing a building: it is a question of balancing the needs of an ever-changing professional environment; providing for efficient and effective workflows, developing technologies, patients with varying and increasingly complex illnesses, sophisticated engineering systems and so forth, while also navigating and incorporating social and environmental sustainability, economics and most importantly, human beings.

Healthscope and BVN worked closely together to ensure staff, clinician, patient, carer and visitor needs were synthesised. Healthscope’s vision for the hospital was driven by the provision of care and commitment, and safety and excellence to the Northern Beaches community. The campus design focused on accessibility and safety, and importantly, a sense of welcome for patients and their families and the many hundreds of staff who will inhabit it daily.

Operating theatre in action.

The High Street

The building has been conceived of as a mini town — with a high street forming the backbone of the town — and all departments connecting back to this street. In this instance the street is multilevel, stretching high to connect and unite all floors of the building. It takes the form of a seven-level atrium, beginning at the hospital’s front door and driving through the very centre of the building, providing visibility across the levels. The atrium is lit by large glass walls to the east and the west and a playful collection of circular skylights providing coloured portholes of light into this central space.

The atrium is home to two striking artworks, both created by local photographers and both celebrating the unique environment of the beaches. The first is the detail from the bark of a scribbly gum by local photographer Suzanna Harroothunian. The second, by 15-year-old photographer Nicholas Seale, is of waves lapping along the sand. This piece is a result of a competition held with the talented students from the neighbouring Forest High School.

Central atrium with artwork and skylights.

Form and massing of the building

The building has three key components — the podium, the inpatient units (wards) and the atrium, with the ground and first floor comprising the ‘podium’ of diagnostic and treatment facilities. Key departments such as emergency, medical imaging and operating theatres that require large contiguous floor plates and direct connections to each other are located here. Courtyard gardens are carved into the podium to provide green spaces and natural light deep inside the building.

The podium forms a base for the various inpatient units above — intensive care units, the birthing suite, paediatrics ward, the special care nursery and medical and surgical wards. These units have expansive views to the south, east, west and north from patient rooms and patient lounges, with significant distances between the building forms to allow these views to be maximised. Above the northern inpatient units, located within the same building footprint, are two floors of specialist consulting suites.

External materials and detail

The ‘window frames’ that define the end of the building have tall and striking proportions and are spilt vertically into pairs on the north, east and west, and threes on the south, to enhance the building’s height; they extend elegantly out to the bushland and surrounding precinct.

The frames are lined in a warm timber and rest on the building’s base, which uses a glazed masonry brick — a material that provides both scale and texture to the parts of the building that engage with the ground plane.

The facades have been broken up into a fine linear patterning of window and wall — utilising a white metal panel in long, vertical panels 300 mm wide, interspersed with long, tall windows forming a shadow, running floor to floor. The fineness of the scale of the narrow panels and tall windows provides a playful counterpart to the scale of the building — a strong and definable form with a delicate skin.

Front entrance and landscaping.

Top image: The Northern Beaches Hospital. All image credits: ©John Gollings

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