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Auckland City Hospital

Media Release
28 September 2003

Auckland City Hospital

“We wanted to break down the feelings of intimidation people have about hospitals, by creating a welcoming and calming environment with quality natural light” Architect, Richard Harris, Director of JASMAX.

Opening to its first patients on 4th October, the new Auckland City Hospital will set a new standard for healthcare providers throughout Australasia. With 710 acute beds, the hospital is large by international standards, the total area of the building (75,000sqm) is equivalent to 16 rugby fields.

“The greatest challenge in designing the hospital was establishing a sense of simplicity and clarity, given the complexity of the brief, the constraints of the site and requirements of the staff, public and patients”, Richard Harris.

The new hospital will bring together staff from Greenlane, National Women’s and Auckland Hospitals. “One of the aims of the new building was to help encourage a singular culture and mode of operation. The internal design of the building was largely informed by this goal”, Euan MacKellar JASMAX Project Architect. Consultation has been an important part of the design process. The design team developed a prototype of a hospital ward and brought staff, patients, public and focus groups into the environment to gauge their response. Their feedback helped inform aspects of the development and test the practicalities of the design.

The new hospital spans five levels linking Starship, Laboratory Services and Accident and Emergency to the original hospital, as a result the signage and way finding systems had to be adapted to deal with the union of buildings.

Architectural Association
JASMAX teamed up with Australian firm MSJ – McConnel Smith and Johnson and were appointed as the architects for the project in July 1999. JASMAX is one of New Zealand’s leading architectural companies and has worked on many of New Zealand’s high profile buildings including Te Papa and the recently completed Britomart Station. MSJ are specialist healthcare planners, with extensive architectural experience in the health sector. The association between JASMAX and MSJ provided additional resources and specialist knowledge.

With such a complex project it was important that the design team worked well together. “While each team worked in specialist areas focusing on their core skills, the key design decisions for the project were developed in consult. The team has worked so well that it has gone on to do other major healthcare projects” Richard Harris.

Architectural Features
- Natural Light
The central atrium and large horizontal windows provide natural light to the majority of the hospital.

National Women’s Hospital, located on the 9th floor, receives direct light from the central atrium. The ninth floor location provides fantastic views of the city making it one of the most desirable spaces in the hospital.

- Outlook
The windowsills in all patient rooms have been lowered to allow patients views outside from their hospital bed. This connection with the outside world is an important aspect for staff as well as patients. As a result the operating theatres also have windows, allowing staff who spend many hours working in operating theatres to have a sense of their external environment.

The majority of wards have floor to ceiling windows at the end of each corridor providing additional natural light and external views, continuing the architectural theme of outlook and natural light.

Many of the patient wards have exceptional views, of the Waitamata Harbour, Grafton Gully, the University, the Domain and the Port.

A landscaped atrium rises up through the heart of the building bringing natural light into the majority of the hospital and provides an internal courtyard for staff and patients to walk, rest and meet with family and friends.

- Colour
Colour is used as an informal language throughout the building, in entry points such as ambulance, emergency and children’s entry. Colours were selected for their calming and welcoming qualities. The orange/red used in many of the public spaces was selected to convey feelings of energy, warmth and wellness.

The wards have a clean, light, calming feel due to subtle earthy colour tones, light wood joinery and woodgrain finish floors.

The black and red block colours used on the exterior of the building signify a juxtaposition of the clinical, factual and realistic against the emotional spiritual and personal aspects of a hospital.

- Internal Bridges
The hospital’s internal bridges were designed to create the sense of an internal street through the hospital – a central spine to help orientate people. The bridges also provide views of the atrium and public spaces for patients in internal wards.

- Articulation of Building
The architects increased the perimeter of the building through shaping the ends. This created an ‘H’ shaped building in plan which optimised the amount of external wall to provide views and natural light to as many rooms as possible. This shape reduces the apparent bulk of the hospital and is a break from the traditional rectangular building.


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