The new Footscray Hospital, the largest health project in Victoria’s history, named a Finalist in WAF Awards

The new Footscray Hospital, Victoria, Australia, is a Finalist in the 2024 World Architecture Festival (WAF) Awards in the Future Projects – Health category.

The community-centred design is a collaboration between COX Architecture and Billard Leece Partnership (BLP) for clients, Plenary Health and the Victorian Health Building Authority with Multiplex as the builder.

At $1.5 billion, it is the largest health infrastructure currently under development in Victoria and will enable and promote the delivery of world-class health care to the people of Melbourne’s west.

Beyond its role as a medical facility, the new Footscray Hospital will become a vital community asset that encapsulates the spirit and dedication of the local populace. Continuing the Footscray Hospital’s heritage as ‘the People’s Hospital’, it has been designed as a hospital in and of its community. Whilst a hospital first and foremost, it will also be a catalyst for change, supporting a broader health, education, research and community precinct.

With five buildings surrounding a central green space, and pedestrian connections into and through the site, it is a significant piece of placemaking in the city. This approach, inspired by community feedback, includes amenity such as a market hall, childcare, gym, pharmacy and cafes.

“The entire design is centred around that green space,” explains Patrick Ness, Director, COX. “A major precinct centrepiece, it will create a verdant gathering space and become the living, breathing heart to the hospital for the staff, patients, for families and the wider community.”

The patient journey has been considered from the perspective of reducing stress, utilising views of nature to support wayfinding and orientation. The ability to immerse oneself in external spaces through many departments of the hospital enables a retreat for patients, families and staff. Functional beyond its pragmatic requirements, the new Footscray Hospital will be a testament to human centred design for the people and communities it serves.

“The design places each patient and their support network at the heart of our design decisions, recognising the healing benefits of family and community involvement,” says Mark Mitchell, Principal, BLP. “The building invites and celebrates their participation, supporting treatment and recovery time as essential components of a healthy and fulfilling life.”

This new model for hospital design blurs the traditional boundaries between healthcare facilities and community wellness. It aims to welcome a diverse demographic, promoting both physical health and overall wellbeing.

“The design explores the role of health architecture as major public infrastructure,” says Paul Curry Director, COX. “The entire community will be able to enjoy the new Footscray Hospital as a public space and for every day of their lives – not just when they’re unwell.”

“We sought to use materials of a tactile nature and detail that invite touch and exploration,” continues Curry. “Throughout the entire precinct, the design aligns with what we would expect of a major public building, with materials and craftmanship that represent quality and longevity.”

There is the ability to immerse oneself in external greened spaces throughout the hospital, creating moments of retreat for patients, families, and staff.

“It doesn’t look or feel like a hospital,” says Tonya Hinde, Principal, BLP. “The design is welcoming and open-hearted, with naturally light-filled interiors utilising the benefits of biophilic design. Personal space and winter gardens located in each ward offer surprising relief and retreat, transforming and improving recovery.”

The new Footscray Hospital Project is being delivered by Plenary Health, in partnership with the Victorian Health Building Authority, and Western Health.

It is currently under construction and due for completion in late 2025.

All shortlisted projects will be presented live to delegates and an international jury at WAF 2024 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore between Wednesday 6 November and Friday 8 November.

The new Footscray Hospital, the largest health project in Victoria’s history, named a Finalist in WAF AwardsLynore Avery