A visit to The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
Earlier this year I had an opportunity to visit The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, a new hospital completed in 2011 replacing the old one on the adjacent land.
What was most impressive about the hospital is the way in which it didn’t feel like a hospital at all. There is an abundance of spaces created with children in mind, with lots of natural day light filtering in either through the roof of the large, glazed atrium or through the glass walls of internal courtyards. Attention to detail was obviously very important during the design process as all the ‘necessary’ features like fire curtains, for example, are carefully incorporated in the ceiling/rooflight installation.
The flow of the space felt incredibly natural, there are no sharp corners, signage is minimal and interactive technology is provided in places when needed to help you find your way around the hospital, which given its size could otherwise be a challenge.
Incorporation of children friendly artwork is an important element of the interiors.The main atrium hosts a gigantic sculpture of an ‘insect’ saying hello to a butterfly which adds colour to the space, and lots of wall art, including on the inside of the lifts, makes the space seem friendly and warm, and not scary in any way.
A connection with nature, which is a big part of the Australian culture, is inherent throughout the hospital. There is a big aquarium with fish where from time to time children can observe a diver swimming inside it, cleaning it or feeding the fish. One of the main ‘attractions’ of the hospital is an enclosure where meerkats have their home. Their daily life could be observed while waiting in one of the waiting area. You can see and understand how these features can be a great healing influence on patients.
This visit to one of the biggest Australian hospitals was inspirational and filled me with ideas and enthusiasm to go the step further when working on any project, as this might really help or positively influence those who are visiting the space we create.
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