Sydney Children’s Hospital & Minderoo Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Centre: For the Wellbeing of our Kids

Billard Leece Partnership (BLP), working with the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Children’s Cancer Institute, and NSW Health Infrastructure, has recently completed the design development phase of Sydney Children’s Hospital Stage 1 and Australia’s first Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Randwick.

Our goal with these projects is to use our expertise in paediatric design to build a state-of-the-art precinct that supports patients, their families, and the support networks around them. We know the recovery process is intrinsically linked to minimising a child’s stress and anxiety and providing a ‘home away from home’. It is designed as a holistic place of healing, for children, their families, carers, hospital, and research staff while seamlessly incorporating the latest technology,” says Tara Veldman, Managing Director, BLP.

The ground-breaking ‘bench to bedside’ design of Sydney Children’s Hospital Stage 1 and Minderoo Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Centre, co-created with clinicians, researchers, children, families, and carers, allows for a fast, collaborative, and specialised approach to individualised care. At the forefront of innovation, new technologies, and world-leading staff will deliver shorter lead times for diagnosis and establish advanced treatment outcomes for kids with cancer locally, nationally, and globally, supporting the Zero Childhood Cancer program. The co-location of paediatric healthcare, education, and research environments will accelerate learning discoveries, engage clinical innovation with bedside care and meet the complex health needs of Sydney’s and the State’s growing population with a future ready workforce

By co-locating patients and technical amenities, there are shorter lead times for cancer testing, resulting in better health outcomes. This is a first in Australia for a health facility to offer this practical approach to patient management and care, supporting the Zero Childhood Cancer program.

BLP has responded to the brief with both creative and technical expertise, designing with head and heart, to deliver a purpose- built, playful and supportive environment for children and their families. The new precinct responds not only to the needs of the child but the entire family and community as a whole,” says Veldman.

BLP’s strength in translating evidence-based research from multiple stakeholders into the physical environment ensures innovative, sustainable, and receptive designs purpose-built for research, hospital and children’s needs. There is clear evidence that ‘positive distraction’ and ‘atmospheric inclusiveness’ contribute to well-being within paediatric hospital environments, particularly when the imagination is ignited and the desire to return to the hospital precinct incited.

The project recreates the ‘back-yard’ as a nature-filled social space for gathering with family and pets, going to the café, or watching an outdoor movie. The family has a joyful place for distraction in a less structured environment on the doorstep to the hospital and research laboratories. The application of this design research in the built environment is recognised to improve children’s mental health and wellbeing, resulting in faster recovery times.

The shared public courtyard and walkway is specifically designed with fun and inclusivity in mind, activating the senses to help young children feel more comfortable at a stressful time. This sense of arrival is enhanced by play areas, uplifting arts and craft spaces, interactive facilities, and destinations for children to play and discover. With families and research staff often on-site 24-7, the precinct has extended hours to match, transforming the experience throughout the day and evening.

A curated north-facing retail area activates the public domain, alongside family spaces created from multi-purpose lobbies to alter the experience after hours. The food delivery window supports the social experience for families, delivering the outside in at all times of day. Equally important, the designs are culturally respectful and inclusive to cater for all families.

Biophilic design principles have been integral and seamlessly integrated into the design through natural light, physical and visual contact with green spaces. Bringing the natural surrounding environment inside through materials, colour, rhythm, and interpretive architecture contribute to the child patient’s healing and wellbeing. Unique to the project, is the adjacent accessible green space or balcony from each ward and laboratory on every hospital level.

The proximity of the hospital to the coast and sea-cliffs has played an important role in design. The project reflects its context through the natural landscape’s colours, textures, and patterns in the façade composition, materiality, and colour palettes. The play of light and colour creates a mosaic reflective of the surrounds, ensuring the abstracted landscapes are both immersive and delightful.

We considered the site’s orientation, connectivity within the precinct, technical requirements, and how the facility is to be used and experienced. Our fundamental goal is to provide the best design for paediatric care, crafting places that are sensitive to the needs of children and their families,” says Ivan Turcinov, Design Lead, BLP.

A great example is the hospital entrance that is ‘child friendly’, a stress-free, non-threatening, welcoming environment when a patient arrives. Health is about people, and in the case of this project, translational design can improve wellbeing at a difficult time in a child’s and their family’s life,” continues Turcinov.

Caring for children is paramount and designing world-class environments for children’s health and wellbeing is of the highest importance. Children heal in hospitals that have been purpose-designed for them. Designed by BLP, Sydney Children’s Hospital Stage 1 and Minderoo Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Randwick, along with The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Redevelopment, are the newest champions of paediatric care in Australia.

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Sydney Children’s Hospital & Minderoo Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Centre: For the Wellbeing of our KidsLiz Tan