The new 298-bed Perth Children’s Hospital provides the best possible clinical care for the most serious medical cases for children and young people and is the base for Western Australia’s outstanding paediatric research.
Designed and built by a passionate team from Aurecon and John Holland, with an alliance of architects, contractors and clients, this state-of-the-art hospital will provide critical care for future generations, and also provides a facility for world-class training for future medical, nursing and allied health practitioners.
Taking a human-centred design approach, to reflect the vision and values of the Child and Adolescent Health Service, Aurecon focused on the needs of the patients, families, health professionals and educators who would be using the hospital, in providing structural, civil, façade and traffic engineering services to this transformative health, training and research facility. Aurecon and the project team participated in focus groups and workshops, to understand what a best practice children’s medical facility would entail and designed in elements that would enhance the experience for patients and practitioners alike.
The outcome is a world class facility that replaces the existing Princess Margaret Hospital, and includes 75 per cent single rooms, 12 multi-use theatres, parent beds in each standard inpatient room, parent lounges on every floor, green spaces, entertainment facilities and a helicopter landing pad for the QEII campus.
In a stroke of serendipity, Aurecon’s senior structural engineer on the project, Pratik Shrestha, was amongst one of the first Western Australians to experience this life-saving facility when his first-born son was rushed to Perth Children’s Hospital for emergency gastro-intestinal surgery following his birth. At that point, Pratik realised the important role that engineers play in creating valuable assets for the community, and how a human-centred design approach can have a significant impact on the outcomes of any life-threatening event.
Despite significant technical and programme-related challenges encountered during delivery of this complex project, a partnership approach that focused on stakeholders meaningfully engaging to solve problems, led to the ultimate outcome of a state-of-the-art medical facility for children and adolescents in Perth.
As construction needed to commence immediately once the site became available, Aurecon used unconventional thinking, in collaboration with John Holland, to delink the design of the early construction elements from the rest of the design process. Input provided by Aurecon allowed excavation for the basement and construction of the piled retention and footing to commence before the building shape and form was developed.
One of the unique and sustainable features of this hospital is its ability to change the internal spaces to suit different health functional planning into the future. Offices can be transformed into operating theatres, operating theatres can become plant rooms, or any combination of change. For a hospital of this size to have such levels of flexibility is unprecedented.
To achieve this flexibility of space, Aurecon economically designed the structural floors and beams to suit any use without the need to strengthen the existing structures.
This flexibility-in-design approach has meant that in the future the hospital can increase its height beyond the current seven storeys, to respond to the growing needs of the community, with minimal disruption to the base build structure.
Digital engineering was effective in helping Aurecon provide a structural solution that balanced the engineering requirements with the possible future uses of the hospital, and all in an economically sustainable way.
When design began in 2011, the use of digital engineering for engineering design was still in its infancy.
As early adopters, the Aurecon design team on this project used a complex advanced engineering analysis software to understand the structural behaviour of the building in the context of the architectural intent.
By bringing the architectural and engineering drawings into the one digital engineering platform, Aurecon was able to iterate between numerous architectural options within a short period of time. This was beneficial for the client to make swift design decisions, all the while iterating between various design options to provide the most economical structural solution.
Perth Children’s Hospital is the state’s special post disaster functioning structure, so designing the structure for this use was challenging and complex. No other building in Western Australia has been designed to this stringent design criteria, so Aurecon turned to colleagues in Christchurch for advice on post-disaster recovery structures.
Aurecon in New Zealand played a key role in the Christchurch recovery effort and were able to guide the efficient and adequate design of a robust hospital structure to allow it to function as a special post disaster structure. Aurecon’s knowledge was then transferred to the architects and contractors working on Perth Children’s Hospital.
As the hospital building opened its doors and started to provide medical and critical care to children, there was an immense sense of pride from every person involved with the project. It is now a hospital able to serve future generations to receive the care they need, and the training they require.