The Architectus and HDR-designed Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH) officially opened in April as a state-of-the-art health facility and teaching hospital comprising 450 beds.

Developed as part of a 20-hectare integrated health campus in Kawana, the 160,000-square-metre building is split over six levels, along with rooftop plant rooms and a helipad. The hospital is set to grow to a 738-bed facility by 2021 thanks to a dynamic design that has been futureproofed for expansion beyond that capacity.

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Taking out the Public category at this year’s Sustainability Awards, the Lendlease-led project has been designed to reduce its impact on the environment, embodying environmentally responsible practices combined with flexible plans that will enable the hospital to adapt to future demands.

The design also aims to aid in the healing process and enhance the general wellbeing of visitors and users, increasing the effectiveness of the buildings while keeping one eye on their long-term operational efficiency and sustainability. This was of significance to the Sustainability Awards’ judges, who noted:

"The importance of buildings in promoting and sustaining health cannot be underestimated – this hospital shows how this typology can [lead in the creation of] places [for] wellbeing."  

Project materials and finishes were selected based on criteria that balanced capital costs, whole-of-life costs and the principles of sustainability. For instance, fa├žade materials have no applied finishes to reduce maintenance, increase durability and deliver appropriate whole-of-life costs. Timber is also used extensively in the design as it is a material that is renewable, readily available, and locally sourced and fabricated.

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Responding to the climate of the Sunshine Coast, the project accommodates a number of outdoor spaces. At its heart, there is a central landscaped courtyard creating a large outdoor room, as well as numerous landscaped courtyards spread throughout. With this space as an integral part of the hospital’s design, the buildings are designed to link seamlessly with the outdoors, incorporating the natural healing properties of the environment. 

“Integration with the outdoors will encourage hospital users to move between internal and external areas, reduce the load on building systems and increase the availability of natural light and fresh air,” says Lendlease.

“The visual connection to the surrounding landscape will help patients and visitors to better orient themselves on the campus.”

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Meeting the project’s sustainability targets was, of course, far from a simple task. The SCUH site is located within 100 metres of wetlands of high ecological value. As such, the project was unable to fully comply with the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Eco-Conditional Requirement. But alternative measures were proposed and accepted by the GBCA, who concluded that they provided adequate protection of the wetlands. 

At a large scale, the project also required the creation of project-specific tools and a mammoth collaborative effort to ensure it could be tracked.

In doing so, the project achieved a 5-star Green Star ‘Design’ and is now targeting a 5-star ‘As Built’ rating.