Royal Adelaide Hospital takes patients on a ‘journey to health’

  •   9 July 2018

The new Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) is the first large-scale hospital complex in Australia to achieve a 4 Star Green Star—Healthcare As Built rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

As the largest health and research precinct in the Southern Hemisphere, the 800-bed RAH was designed by Silver Thomas Hanley and DesignInc to bring patients on a “journey to health” through the use of biophilic design strategies.

“We saw the opportunity to design a hospital within a park, a park within a hospital,” Richard Does, Director at DesignInc, explains. “That idea of bringing nature into the healing spaces reshaped the architecture and the nature of care in quite a radical way.”

Each bedroom is its own healing environment, designed so patients receive clinical care in a space they are comfortable in. Here, operable windows provide privacy, fresh air and garden outlooks.

The use of natural light and greenery is a key focus. The hospital’s orientation is optimised to increase natural light and minimise solar thermal load.

Meanwhile, over 70 internal courtyards and sky gardens, such as the Spinal Garden and an Aboriginal Garden, create a 1.6ha footprint of green space within the building. Altogether, the site boasts a total of 3.8ha of landscape environment.

In addition to the daylighting and biophilic design strategies, the project also includes several ESD initiatives, such as:

  • Water conservation through rainwater harvesting for non-potable use
  • Energy efficient fittings and a co-generation system that turns waste heat into energy
  • The use of responsible materials, including low-VOC paints, flooring and acoustic insulation
  • Water and power metering to track and report consumption
  • Not only is the RAH one of Australia’s greenest healthcare institution, it is also one of, if not the most, innovative in its use of technology. The hospital features tele-health facilities that reach remote rural areas, and information kiosks for visitor navigation.
  • Robots deliver food and equipment to patients—a first for Australian public hospitals.
  • The patient-nurse call system is wireless.

The purpose designed ICT ‘integration engine’ is also advanced, integrating patient records, and clinical, patient and FM support systems.

“Research from the World Green Building Council has shown that incorporating green design in hospital infrastructure can deliver an 8.5 percent reduction in hospital stays, 15 percent faster recovery rates, a 22 percent reduction in the need for pain medication and an 11 percent reduction in secondary infections,” GBCA Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew commented.

“We know that on average, Green Star buildings deliver significant savings, producing 62 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and using 66 percent less electricity than average Australian buildings.

“But it’s not just the environment that benefits from green buildings, it’s the people who use them. The sustainability elements of Royal Adelaide Hospital add up to hugely improved amenity for patients, visitors and staff.”