Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences

Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences

We designed high-tech simulation spaces and informal spaces that encourage collaborative work and socialisation to accommodate every individual or working group.”

Adrian Stanic, Director of Lyons

The expectations and demands of academic medical architecture are constantly evolving. The silos between disciplines are breaking down, collaboration is moving to the forefront of design and technology is always advancing. Designing an entire student experience that readies future medical professionals for the real world has become necessary as online courses flood the market. Our aim is to design solutions that foster an integrated experience, unique to each community.

Together with the Adelaide University, we designed the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences (AHMS) building to transform the university experience for researchers, students, teachers and the community. This project saw a rigorous design phase in which we kept three design options live to allow the University of Adelaide to concurrently negotiate the optimal design and finalise budget. The final design promotes flexibility and collaboration across spaces and incorporates state of the art technology. As a result, AHMS has positioned itself as a destination of choice for health and medical research, teaching and learning.

  • Sector

    Research Buildings

  • Key Lyons contacts

    Adrian Stanic
    Diana Jones

  • Client

    University of Adelaide

  • Location

    4 North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000

  • Traditional land

    Located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna and Peramangk people

  • Size

    30,000 square metres

  • Project status

    Complete, 2017


2018 Australian Institute of Architects Awards - SA Chapter
    • The Gavin Walkley Award for Urban Design, South Australian Chapter
    • Educational Architecture Award, South Australian Chapter 

“The AHMS is a visionary building that transformed the way the University delivered its health education and research programmes. Lyons worked collaboratively and tirelessly with the stakeholders from the inception of the project to its successful on time and budget completion. They are passionate about design and function, the result is truly inspiring piece of user centric architecture and urban design.”


Roger Parolin, University of Adelaide AHMS Project Director – Design and Construction

“Our focus is on designing flexible occupant-centric spaces that facilitate and enable the use of mobile digital devices together with the building infrastructure – be that wall mounted screens, fixed group tables or interactive furniture. No longer do we design spaces around fixed computers for single modes of use.”

Diana Jones, Principal at Lyons

the city



the Campus

Creating synergies between research and learning

The technologically advanced design of the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building not only changes the way students learn, it changes the way people connect across disciplines within the medical field. The state of the art design allows the University of Adelaide to attract and retain talented students, researchers and academic staff, while making a long-term contribution to the health sector. We were conscious of this in our design as the University of Adelaide has a rich history of alumni, including Howard Florey, the pharmacologist known for his contribution to developing penicillin. We designed a space for networking, to bring together more than 1,600 students and 700 health researchers across the precinct in a vibrant, innovative environment featuring cutting-edge technology, teaching spaces, technical training and simulation suites. 

The AHMS building promotes collaboration between clinicians, staff and students, thanks to a series of carefully designed floor plans throughout the 13-storey building. The research laboratories are designed so that research teams have access to labs, write up areas and communal supporting facilities on each of the research floors (Levels 5 to 9). Multimodal teaching areas provide flexibility for staff and students to vary how and where they interact, while a series of balcony terraces provide breakout spaces for informal gatherings. Leveraging connecting spaces and windows to create transparency, our design forges ties between today’s medical professionals and tomorrow’s healthcare providers.

Advanced learning spaces

Our design for the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building was an opportunity to inherently change the way researchers and students interact, and in turn facilitate first class research outcomes. Our approach focuses on design solutions that encourage interprofessional learning and collaboration across disciplines. From the moment it opened in 2017, AHMS set a new standard in flexible Simulation Based Learning environments for health care education across the globe. This allows the University of Adelaide to establish itself amongst the most advanced institutions for medical sciences.

The Simulation facilities, located across two levels of the building and operated by the Adelaide Health Simulation team, give students access to immersive skills based learning experiences across a variety of simulation modalities. The brief and design for the simulation facilities was developed with input from the university’s academic and technical staff, with reference to precedent facilities across Australia, and consultation with simulation equipment and software providers. 

These facilities incorporate three types of flexible hospital bed based teaching suites. Each suite includes bed bays, designed to reflect facilities at the nearby Royal Adelaide Hospital, together with space for briefing, observation and de-briefing. Providing specialised learning opportunities, the facilities also include a nurse base, scrub station, clean utility spaces, bariatric hoists, and a training ensuite. The suites are all equipped with integrated video and audio capture, and further supported by specialised storage, a green room for standardised patient actors, technician control rooms and staff workspaces. Speaking of the simulation spaces, Adrian Stanic, Director at Lyons said “We designed high-tech simulation spaces and informal spaces that encourage collaborative work and socialisation to accommodate every individual or working group. Our intent is to make the physical experience of going to university a rich and rewarding one that facilitates better learning and research outcomes for all.

Designing a building of public significance

The design of the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building makes an important contribution to the life and experience of Adelaide city. We worked with the University of Adelaide on a building that not only paves the way for medical sciences, but also contributes to the broader community. 

To ensure our designs met the needs of those using the space, we involved a cross-section of university users in our initial briefing process. This enabled us to prioritise the university’s functional and aspirational objectives while integrating it with the urban environment. Physical transparency can be seen throughout, particularly in the lower levels of the building. This conveys a sense of welcome and openness to students, researchers and the general public. 

Hemmed in between railway lines and North Terrace, AHMS sits on the border of the central business and residential district of Adelaide. Home to many of Adelaide’s most well known cultural institutions, North Terrace is a high-traffic space buzzing with energy. To compliment this environment AHMS extends a generous forecourt to North Terrace, blurring the lines between campus and city. 

To integrate AHMS further, our design echoes existing features such as terracing, cloisters, connecting stairs, materials and textures. We designed the coloured pattern of the facade’s sunshade to reference the railway lines adjacent to the site. A major component of the design considered the role of the ground plane in creating cohesion between the campus and broader Adelaide community. The inclusion of an urban park with lawn, plantings and trees softens the scale of the AHMS building while seamlessly connecting it to its surroundings.

Another design feature we used to integrate the AHMS building with Adelaide city are the timber-floored Edgescapes. Located on the leading edges of the east and west corners, the Edgescapes act as landscape platforms or terraces creating breakout spaces on every level of the building. They enable visual connections to the city and activation to North Terrace.

Fostering a sense of place

The Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building was an addition to the biomedical precinct, a campus renowned for its world-class medical research, teaching practice and programmes. We worked with the University of Adelaide on a design that represents the changing expectations in education and architecture. The result is a high-tech, student-centric building that is transforming the student learning experience and preparing healthcare workers for their professional practice. 

The location of AHMS alone provides a strong sense of place for students. Located on North Terrace in the South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct alongside the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, AHMS is at the heart of a world class medical community. It houses the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Public Health, and accommodates research groups from the university.

Beyond the location, the design of AHMS enhances students’ experience at every opportunity. The lower levels of the building on North Terrace accommodate the main teaching spaces, student focused facilities and gathering spaces. We designed a large atrium to define the main entry and celebrate views over the railway lines to the Torrens and the Adelaide Oval. This transparent design on the ground floor focuses on creating a sense of openness and accessibility.

With the upsurge of online university courses, our designs create a rich and rewarding experience, far more than just an education. Informal spaces for collaborative working and socialising are seamlessly integrated into the building. These informal spaces have become crucial to shaping students’ motivational relationship to physically attending university.

Key Contacts

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