The reopening of the Emergency Department (ED) and the renal unit at Lismore Base Hospital in November 2016 marked the first stage of significant upgrades to the regional referral, level five base hospital within the Northern New South Wales Local Health District. 

Providing state-of-the-art facilities, Stage 3a has been designed by Woods Bagot and has allowed the hospital to expand its capacity to treat patients and meet the increasing demand for healthcare services. 

The hospital provides a wide range of health services to the community, with the 51-bed emergency department and 18-bed renal unit the first departments of the hospital's $260 million redevelopment to be completed and open to the public. A comprehensive Level Five Emergency Department undertaking the provision of care to almost 30,000 patients annually across district, the new ED facility also manages acute medical and acute surgical problems, as well as trauma and all forms of adult and paediatric health issues.


At the heart of the project was a requirement to augment the hospital’s ability to provide modern, purpose-built facilities designed to promote patient-centred treatment, underpinned by contemporary models of care and reflective of clinical best practice. 

Woods Bagot Associate and project architect Alissandra Johnston says the hospital’s expansion has resulted in enhanced medical support to the district.

“The redevelopment has improved the level of care the surrounding community has access to in closer proximity to their homes, reducing the need for patient transfers to metropolitan hospitals,” she notes.

“The community was at the core of our design response. We wanted to create a hospital campus whereby the design worked within the envelope of the existing building fabric to integrate the private and the public realm.”


Creating visual cohesion, a new external canopy was designed to integrate the new south tower at the front of the site with the existing structure. Signalling a new address for the hospital, the folding form of the cover assists to identify the public-use periphery by providing a landscaped place of respite for patents and visitors to gather.    

Considering the end-user experience was about making patients and visitors feel comfortable and safe within the confines of the hospital, opening up the interiors to encourage patients to feel part of the community rather than isolated and alone.

By breaking down the clinical model, the design provided a unique opportunity to create a more comfortable patient experience in the emergency and renal departments. 

The new renal unit features 18 haemodialysis treatment spaces including three isolation rooms, dialysis home training facilities, a private courtyard, a patient lounge and a separate entrance and waiting room.

Creating a gesture of privacy without isolation within the open-plan renal unit, small organic pebble-shaped partitions between each bay help to maintain functionality and sightlines for staff, while also serving to draw natural daylight into the space. The pebble motif is echoed in recessed ceiling bulkheads, with softly-lit pendants also used to demarcate nursing stations and observation points.


Referencing nature, a repetitive foliage-inspired motif has been translated into the interior wall treatments by stylised bamboo panelling. A hierarchy of spaces is created via floor finishes and joinery details which are tied to the wayfinding strategy and holistic design concept. 


The emergency department is divided into a number of key areas, all connected by large corridors that allow for easy staff movement. The creation of an internal east/west hospital ‘street’ or link bridge partnered with the simplified and amalgamated central entry has provided clear connectivity within the hospital.