Perth Children's Hospital, BLP

Perth Children’s Hospital: a wonderland for kids

A hospital experience can be frightening or fascinating.

Designed in collaboration with JCY, Cox Architecture with HKS Inc and John Holland, everything at the new Perth Children’s Hospital, from the journey into and through the hospital to the finest details, has been considered and recalibrated for a child’s perspective.

By injecting a sense of play and discovery, the designs distract and reduce anxiety.

Look-outs, nooks, hideaways and caves; these small spaces within large spaces not only provide safe vantage points, but also break down the massive facility into child size bites.

Director Mark Mitchell said, “We talked a lot about the concept of finding the small, beautiful object within the vast landscape.

The idea that there’s a gem or jewel inside a huge expanse of something else, that seems to be a uniquely Western Australian thing.

“The design was conceived as a response to that – a small special space within the vastness of the landscape.”

Heights of staff desks and counters are deliberately low to enable direct communication between staff and children; inpatient staff stations in particular are designed as treehouses. Lowered window seats present pops of colour and visual treats at a child’s level and for them alone, and may even be missed by the adults.

Seating areas are not just for sitting, but for climbing, hiding and exploring. Geometric cut-outs (which double as window seats) mark the entry to each of the play therapy areas.

Andrew Rogerson of Cox Architecture commented, “There’s fun and whimsy in the building throughout, such as the window seats, but also in the ceilings along the bed corridors, where there are details in the ceilings. So, if a child’s lying on a bed travelling through the facility, at least there’s something to look at and a bit of wonder as they pass. These design solutions are about removing some of the anxiety.”

The atrium space at the heart of the hospital is a hive of activity and wonderment.

Looking up, suspended mobiles reflect sparkles of light through the space, providing a cascade of kinetic petals throughout the day. The rolling and bulging forms of the balconies around the central space suggest a place of play rather than sickness.

Rooms are also designed from the perspective of a child in their bed. From here there are fantastic views, many of them across Kings Park and to the Swan River, with a family zone under the window with enough space for a parent to stay overnight, and for siblings to play and enjoy the hospital experience too.

Families are welcomed and made to feel at home with their child in an amazingly energetic space with universal appeal.

Perth Children’s Hospital is not your traditional hospital – it is a world class facility that will provide moments of discovery and delight for generations of Western Australian children.

View the project here.

Perth Children’s Hospital: a wonderland for kidsChristine Arundell