Global architecture firm Buchan recently delivered a multimillion-dollar healthcare facility with the design based on principles of wellness and biophilia.

Led by Harvey Male, principal at Buchan, the Victorian Specialist Centre project in Lower Templestowe was designed to meet the client’s brief that sought to revolutionise the customer’s experience with a healthcare facility based upon the principles of wellness and biophilic design. The building combines modern amenities with natural elements to create a calming environment.

Observing that design can support mental wellbeing, which, in turn, has positive implications for physiological health, Male says, “Architects have the opportunity, through the design of form, space and materiality, to provide an improved sense of wellbeing.”

By focussing on nature, lighting, wayfinding and privacy, the Victorian Specialist Centre’s design aims to create the best possible experience for the customer from the moment they drive into the underground parking and enter the spacious waiting area where a six-metre Ficus Hilii tree welcomes them as they walk in the door. The tree is a reflection of the health of the centre and was selected for its suitability for the environment.

The stylish reception area features soaring ceilings and contemporary furnishings to create a naturally lit, relaxing space for patients. To ensure human interaction, visitors are greeted by a person and not a screen.

“Relationship and socialisation have positive health benefits, so whilst incorporating cutting edge technology throughout individual practices was essential, it was also important to preserve the opportunity for human interaction where possible,” explains Male.

Underground parking is available for patients and delivery personnel with internal access, considerate of the need for both patient and operational privacy. Patient discretion continues into the waiting rooms with sectioned waiting areas separated with chiffon curtaining.

Male attributes the successful delivery of the Specialist Centre to the collaboration with the client as well as the contractor, Hagta Group.

Hagta Group director John Hagopian described the project as a non-standard build that had the potential to be replicated and rolled out across Victoria.

“The sense of connection with nature was one of the drivers behind the design and build,” Hagopian says.

“We’ve manufactured that connection to nature both internally through careful planning of the geometry of the building, and externally through landscape architecture.”

A combination of elements comprising of nature, organic lighting, inviting textiles and subtle privacy provides a restorative effect on patients so they can enjoy the space as much as is possible when visiting a medical centre.

“The Victorian Specialist Centre is a point of difference in the healthcare industry and will continue to attract patients as they realise they don’t need to feel uncomfortable in a stale environment when they await medical treatment,” Male says.

Images: Michael Gazzola © IMG.CO PTY LTD