Wellington Children’s Hospital, New Zealand

A modern new children’s hospital for New Zealand’s capital city

The existing Wellington Children’s Hospital was almost 30 years old, cramped, with inadequate facilities for the needs of the area’s growing population. The Wellington Children’s Hospital Capital & Coast District Health Board had been working on a long-term plan for better child health services, which included a new children's hospital, but it was brought to life much faster than expected thanks to a generous donation by local philanthropist Mark Dunajtschik.

It all started when a Wellington property developer and philanthropist offered to support a new children's hospital to the value of $50 million. After considerable discussions, the Government and Capital Coast District Health Board accepted Mr Dunajtschik’s proposal, with the Government committing another $45.6M to bring the hospital to life.

On 14 July 2017 then Prime Minister Bill English announced that Mr Dunajtschik would not only provide funding for the new hospital, he would build and then donate it to the Wellington community.

Alongside Mr Dunajtschik’s and the Government’s contribution, the Wellington Hospitals Foundation raised $10M to fund the furniture and fittings, technology and new medical equipment. Long-time supporters of the hospital, Weta Workshop created designs for the interior of the hospital to make it a more welcoming environment for kids.

Making the vision a reality

The dream was brought to life in the engineering designs as Aurecon completed the civil engineering and building services for the new 7 500-square metre building. The new stand-alone hospital is spread over three floors and connects to the main Regional Hospital by a sky walk. One floor is dedicated to surgical patients and one floor for medical patients, while the ground floor will house day patients and other paediatric services.

Aurecon’s experience in designing healthcare facilities was a significant benefit for the hospital upgrade.

The new Wellington Children’s Hospital will better cater for the approximately 30 000 children and their whanau (family) who pass through its doors each year.

Starting from the ground up

The first design challenge was underground, with contaminated soil underneath the site. Aurecon considered alternative water, wastewater and service pipe materials to allow installation underground without disturbing the soil unnecessarily.

In addition, the chosen materials had to absorb the loading of the building and the seismic risks associated with building projects in Wellington.

Sustainability was a key consideration

Aurecon’s sustainability-led approach for the upgraded hospital resulted in many initiatives that reduced the environmental footprint of the building and its energy demands.

Recovered heat from the chilled water plant is used for heating, and preheating, the hospital’s domestic hot water system. The design also incorporated the use of waste heat recovery air handling units in the air conditioning systems. This investment in waste heat recovery provides an alternative energy source to heat hot water, yield energy savings for the hospital and reduce dependency on the electrical grid.

Using the power of digital engineering

As the building services engineer, Aurecon endeavoured to make the design process collaborative and inclusive for all stakeholders by using digital engineering tools.

Aurecon developed QR codes for individual elements of the building design, so the project construction team and reviewers could visualise the proposed designs in all areas of the hospital.

The rapid realisation of a new Wellington Children’s hospital has been a true collaboration between Wellington Hospitals Foundation, the NZ Government and Mark Dunajtschik, along with passionate clinicians, staff, designers and contractors to provide the best possible care for children and young people in Wellington.

In 1912 the community assisted in funding the very first children's hospital in New Zealand and now over 100 years later, the community is building a new fit for purpose children's hospital for future generations. The new hospital is due for completion in 2021.

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