A surprisingly natural form inspired this hospital

Two Australian practices ditched the tower-and-podium model to create this great new Brisbane paediatrics facility
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Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett
Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett

Two Australian architecture firms have turned conventional hospital design thinking on its head with their children’s hospital in Brisbane.

“We studied hospitals from the 1980s through to the present day and saw these as being largely functionally driven and medico-centric in their planning”, say the architects at Lyons in Melbourne, who worked with 125-year-old Brisbane firm Conrad Gargett on the project.

 

Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett
Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett

So the duo ditched the standard podium and tower format in favour of a 12-storey building with two big atriums, plenty of double-height spaces and roof gardens. To further distance themselves from the norm, they installed bright green and purple fins as external shading for the glazed facades.

They took as their concept for the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital a living tree, “a network of 'trunks and branches’ which punctuate the building and connect inside and outside”, say the architects at Lyons.

 

Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett
Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett

The team at Conrad Gargett explain that Brisbane’s subtropical climate provided a reference point for the environmental approach taken in the design “expressed externally by extensive sun-shading and internally by the tree and branch structure which allows the building to breathe”. 

 

Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett
Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett

So the two atriums are the tree trunks, which link to the ‘branches’ of the double-height department spaces and beyond to the external balconies.

Located in a big urban park in Brisbane’s Southbank precinct, the $1.2bn AUS, 359-bed hospital is one of the most advanced paediatric facilities in the world. It focuses on specialist acute and sub-acute services together with research and teaching facilities, and has a new clinic to treat obesity. As such, it brings together the staff and services of the Royal Children's Hospital and Mater Children's Hospital, and will be the single specialist children's hospital for the state of Queensland.

 

Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett
Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, Brisbane - Lyons/ Conrad Gargett

For more on the way we build today, check out Lyons page on the Phaidon Atlas, our peerless architectural resource; you can sign up for a free trial here.

Also, why not buy 20th Century World Architecture for the best buildings created since 1900. Among them are 12 medical facilities, each groundbreaking in their own way, 36 musuems, 48 universities, 38 churches and 44 offices among various other types of building both large and small.


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