Royal North Shore Clinical Services


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Located on a prominent site within Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital Campus, the 28,000m2 Clinical Services Building is visited by thousands of local residents every year. Designed to complement the newly commissioned $1.6bn Acute Services Building, it comprises maternity, paediatric, neonatal intensive care, burns and general ward units. Also included is a secure mental health facility, accessed via its own entrance and operated independently of the other functions.

The client brief presented a unique opportunity to reimagine how a hospital building is designed and how spatial adaptability may be ensured over time as the clinical users needs change. Faced with a technically complex brief, our approach leverages a commercial office model where clinical departments are treated as tenancies that are intended to adapt without effecting the operation of others. The brief also demanded that the structure, façade solution and internal layout be designed to accommodate additional floors should the building undergo a major refit.

Conspicuous and visible along a 180 degree arc, the tower is a significant landmark in Sydney’s Lower North Shore Hospital with its striking façade of metallic panels that change in various lighting conditions throughout the day. The building is divided into two parts, comprising a two storey brick base that addresses the steeply sloping Westbourne Street and a metallic tower that rises eight stories above. The main public entrance is located at the north west corner, offering a sheltered drop off, atrium lobby and café facilities for visitors and patients accessing the building’s wards and functions. In addition, a separate entrance located on the building’s southern side is provided for the secure mental health unit. There is also a maternity unit ambulance bay which is accessed from Westbourne Street.

Although the building’s scale and basic form was determined by the client’s need for flexible space and connections to the neighbouring Acute Services Building, the design concept needed to account for a clinical plan that had not been determined. Thus, to maximise opportunities for high quality clinical spaces, the building’s flooplate was designed to ensure deep penetration of natural light, unimpeded views to the surrounding suburbs and offer simple way-finding strategies based upon a central atrium lift group. These strategies, combined with optimised floor plate dimensions, ensure the completed building offers the best possible health outcomes for patients and clinicians alike.

Programmatic relationships were solved by designing three bridges that connect the Clinical Services Building with the Acute Services Building, allowing both facilities to share pathology, medical imaging, nuclear medicine, mortuary, hotel and administration services.

Building Studio leveraged best practice commercial office design strategies by carefully planning vertical circulation along likely corridor routes and incorporating independent floor-by-floor mechanical systems. Our commercial expertise ensured a flexible façade that permits windows to be relocated during future refits without disturbing the building’s overall aesthetic.

Building Studio completed the design and documentation of the building’s shell and core in 2014, with the internal design completed by clinical planning specialists.