Healthcare design is continuously evolving to create environments that have a positive influence on health outcomes. Conventional hospital design that focussed on clinical efficiency often had a dehumanising effect on patients. This old model is being replaced with new buildings characterised by an abundance of natural light, leafy outlooks, calming colour palettes and organic form-making, all designed to make people feel comfortable, happier and more connected.

This human-centred design approach is highlighted at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, a landmark infrastructure project in South Australia, where specially commissioned art has been integrated into its interior and exterior environments.

More than two dozen local artists were engaged to contribute their work from freestanding sculptures and decorative hard landscaping to photographs and paintings.

Artist Annalise Rees' beautiful line drawings, printed onto Laminex high pressure laminate (HPL), adorn the walls at the hospital. Rees was commissioned to create illustrations for walls in the hallways and lift lobbies. These illustrations were printed on Laminex CustomArt laminate to ensure high-quality large-scale reproduction of the artistic work as well as achieve wall surfaces that would provide hardwearing performance appropriate to the hospital setting.

Like all Laminex high pressure laminates, CustomArt is highly durable, resistant to impacts, scratches and stains, easy to clean and made with Protec+ antimicrobial technology, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungus and mould – an important consideration for the hospital setting.

The wall panels were created by scanning Rees’ sketchbook-scaled illustrations and transferring the images into digital CAD files to be printed by Laminex directly onto HPL in warm-white Laminex Parchment. A local Adelaide company, Steedform pressed the HPL onto fire-rated MDF panels, which were then installed at the hospital.

Rees worked closely with the design and construction team, choosing colours consistent with the interior’s muted palette and composing her illustrations to fit in the available space, taking into consideration lift openings, doorways and other interruptions to the flat plane of the walls. Her illustrations portray much-loved elements of South Australia’s natural environments and culture, including magpies and cockatoos, flowering gums, the Adelaide skyline and even the iconic local ‘Stobie’ electricity pole.

“I was quite mindful of the things that remind people of place, what they might connect to, and could potentially transport them out of the space,” says Rees. “I hope they improve or make hospital visits a little more positive, knowing that sometimes it isn’t a space where people are feeling particularly good.”

The walls can be viewed from a distance as a decorative interior landscape and also up close, where the fine detail of Rees’ art can be fully appreciated.

“You have 22-metre-long drawings, which work at a distance but also have elements in them that invite a more intimate inspection, where you can come up close and notice the fine detail,” Rees observed.

Rees’ artwork for the Royal Adelaide Hospital indicates the potential of Laminex CustomArt laminates in a wider range of applications including furniture, benchtops, doors, or anywhere that HPL can be used. The options are limitless because any flat, clear artwork can be reproduced on a background colour selected from a huge range of decors in the Laminex Colour Collection.