Queensland Children's Hospital

Queensland Children's Hospital

“The Queensland Children’s Hospital was an opportunity to contest prevailing paradigms; to radically rethink how a building may both improve on the traditional care model and also contribute to the city as a civic marker.”

Corbett Lyon, Director and co-founder of Lyons

We see every project as an opportunity to interrogate design and leave antiquated conventions behind. This was certainly the case for the Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH), a project that became the blueprint for many hospital designs across Australia. With an abundance of evidence-based design, too often are hospital facilities templated, ignoring the opportunity to innovate and tailor buildings to our communities. Working with Queensland Health, a client keen to embrace innovation, we challenged the conventions of hospital design in search of a truly functional and meaningful outcome.

Our research methodologies included studying hospitals from the 1980s through to the present day to understand the genealogy and typography of contemporary hospitals. From this process came the opportunity to contest outdated ideas and rethink the care model. The result is a building that on completion in 2014 was Australia’s largest and most advanced salutogenically-designed children’s hospital, housing leading edge diagnostic and treatment facilities and spaces for research and teaching. Not simply a success for its facilities, the building is a welcoming, bright, and supportive environment for health workers and the young patients and families of Queensland.

  • Sector

    Hospitals & Healthcare

  • Key Lyons contacts

    Corbett Lyon
    Rob Tursi

  • Collaborators

    Conrad Gargett (Joint Venture Architects)

  • Client

    Queensland Health

  • Location

    501 Stanley St, Brisbane

  • Traditional land

    Located on the traditional lands of the Yuggera people

  • Size

    95,000 square metres

  • Project status

    Complete, 2014

Awards:

2015 Australian Institute of Architects Awards - QLD Chapter
    • F.D.G. Stanley Award for Public Architecture, Queensland Chapter, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
    • Karl Langer Award for Urban Design, Queensland Chapter, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
    • Interior Architecture Award, Queensland Chapter, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
    • Art and Architecture Prize, Queensland Chapter, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
2015 Australian Institute of Architects Awards - Brisbane Regional
    • John Dalton Award for Building of the Year, Brisbane Regional, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
    • Public Architecture – Commendation, Brisbane Regional, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
    • Urban Design – Commendation, Brisbane Regional, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
    • Interior Architecture – Commendation, Brisbane Regional, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
    • Art & Architecture – Commendation, Brisbane Regional, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital

“The contemporary design we envisaged several years ago has been delivered and will allow us to achieve our goal of delivering patient and family-focused healthcare.”

Dr Peter Steer, formerly Children’s Health Queensland chief executive, as quoted in Architecture & Design article.

“The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital transforms a large and complex piece of healthcare infrastructure into a series of framed moments which both surprise and delight. The hospital establishes a new benchmark in paediatric healthcare for the state.”

2015 Queensland Architecture Awards Jury comments

Providing a new level of care for Queensland

The Queensland Children’s Hospital is a significant urban addition to Brisbane’s Southbank precinct. Both in its form and function, the building marks a contribution to the life and experience of the community. Our design for QLC has enabled a new level of patient and family-centred care, unprecedented in Queensland.

The QCH replaced two existing children’s hospital facilities and is designed to deliver a wide range of health services as well as research and teaching spaces. This included a full range of outpatient services, leading edge diagnostic and treatment facilities and inpatient wards for children and their families and carers.

To design a highly operational building that contributes to the urban environment, we undertook a rigorous research process. We studied hospitals from the 1980s through to the present day, finding them to be largely functionally driven and medico-centric in their planning. Through this research into the genealogy and typography of contemporary hospitals, we saw an opportunity to contest these ideas, rethinking the care model and how it might benefit the Brisbane community.

Contesting these ideas never compromised functionality, rather, we sought to create an operational layout inextricably intertwined with inherent symbolism. While a living tree informed the design, the twelve level 95,000m2 building is highly functional, incorporating some of the world’s most advanced diagnostic, interventional and treatment facilities. Yet with plant-inspired cladding, wildlife-themed artworks and a network of spaces based on trunks and branches the Queensland Children’s Hospital breathed as it grew. Not only does this symbolism keep children at the forefront of our design, it also provides an operational layout.

Working with key stakeholders, we moved away from conventional hospital models of a podium and tower, and designed two generous atriums, numerous double-height spaces, and a series of roof terraces. The two atriums stand like distinguished tree trunks,helping visitors and staff easily navigate the paediatric facility. These are connected by a network of double height spaces that extend beyond the façade to form balconies, acting as the branches of the building. Each branch is oriented toward a key landmark in the city – the high rise buildings of central Brisbane, the distant mountains and the Brisbane River.

A patient’s wellbeing primarily depends on having access to the right facilities and efficient care, and these factors rely on innovative design. We designed the majority of rooms to accomodate single beds with ensuite and built in couches that convert to a bed for a parent/carer to comfortably stay overnight with their child. Parent lounges are located on every ward, and a family resource centre provides a space to access health information. Our design heavily reduced spaces for waiting areas, a conscious design decision that fundamentally changed service models for the hospital. Our emphasis on service planning and patient flow in QCH became a blueprint for health services across Queensland. We worked closely with healthcare professionals to balance our innovative solutions with their invaluable opinions, resulting in improved service models and more advanced care for patients.

“The Queensland Children’s Hospital was an opportunity to contest prevailing paradigms; to radically rethink how a building may both improve on the traditional care model and also contribute to the city as a civic marker and as a touchstone for the Brisbane community.” —Corbett Lyon, Director and co-founder of Lyons

Building
the city

Connecting
with landscape

Healthier
communities

The therapeutic value of nature

We set out to design a welcoming, bright and supportive environment for patients, families and health workers. To achieve this, our design is underpinned by salutogenic principles to facilitate health and wellbeing for both patients and health workers. These principles include clear way finding, connections to the outside, an abundance of natural light, views of nature, and access to green spaces.

The tree structure of the building enables way-finding, and offers access to natural light, fresh air and landscaping – elements that expedite healing and improve feelings of wellbeing. The building’s corridor structure provides significant views of the city, helping to normalise the space from both the outside in and the inside out. This blurring of spaces also helps to address the grand size of the building, making it less intimidating. 

Designing an environment with an abundance of green space was a key element in supporting wellness in QCH. Rooftop gardens, sloping green walls and enclosed courtyard gardens can be found throughout. We designed patios on the upper levels to be used by patients, families, and staff for relaxation and rehabilitation. Major windows allow people to see in and out of the building, helping with the context of time and place as well as building community connections.

Colour, natural materials and art are similiarily used to promote wellbeing and engage and distract young patients. Sculptures of brightly coloured parrots inhabit the space in the central atrium and images of butterflies, beetles and insects printed on timber panels line the building’s public spaces.

Born from the Queensland landscape

To create a supportive environment for patients, families and staff we designed the Queensland Children’s Hospital to integrate with the surrounding landscape. Blurring the lines between environments sought to make a trip to the hospital a little less intimidating for children. Our design also acknowledges the building’s responsibility to the broader community to work with and contribute to the surroundings. 

The building sits alongside the Southbank Parklands, a generous urban park which serves as a gathering place for people from across Brisbane. The plaza reactivates this important ‘end point’ to the Southbank precinct and provides a new level of urban amenity for hospital and public users. It includes cafes and retail activities, strengthens landscape and visual connections to Southbank and accommodates major works of urban art integrated with the plaza design.

Bougainvilleas in the adjacent parklands informed the colour palette used throughout the building creating a bright, familiar space, especially for children. We also drew upon muted pastel tones found in the outback and vibrant colours of the State’s exotic birds, rainforest butterflies and flora throughout. These colours were distilled, re-constructed into a ‘Queensland colour wheel’ and then used as a design tool to inform the use of colour in different zones of the building. Key accents of nature, wildlife and abundant green spaces also link the building to the familiar landscape of Queensland.

Key Contacts