The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) began in 1848 as Victoria’s first public hospital, and today is one of the largest healthcare providers in Australia. A designated statewide provider for trauma services, the RMH’s 11,000+ staff provide a comprehensive range of specialist medical, surgical, and mental health services, as well as rehabilitation, aged care, specialist clinics and community programs.

Gray Puksand’s design for the recently completed RMH Theatres Support project, focuses on the human element of the hospital providing critically needed spaces both for clinical services, as well as for staff rest, respite, and wellness. The design aims to provide a comfortable, safe, and welcoming refuge for staff from the rigors of work. A key objective was to design the spaces to encourage and facilitate social interaction but recognizing that quiet spaces for rest and contemplation are equally important.

The project consists of 10 separate work packages intended to alleviate functional and spatial pressures created by the integration of two new theatres built in 2019. This included the design and delivery of a wide variety of spaces throughout the RMH buildings including a new Biomedical Workshop, Office spaces for Medical Records and Freedom of Information services, Meeting/Seminar Rooms, Peri-operative Staff Kitchen and Tea Room, Staff Lockers, and Change Facilities, as well as various clinical storage and support spaces.

The largest element of the project is the creation of a large staff change, shower and WC amenities with lockers serving up to 900 staff. A feature of the design was the dynamic indigenous artwork integrated as a perforation into the locker doors. Through the staff change areas the use of timber laminates, terrazzo stone and feature lighting imbue the spaces with a warmth and softness – a contrast to the clinical feel of the surrounding hospital environment.

The office spaces also place staff comfort at the forefront of the design – maximizing use of natural light – including borrowed light – through the careful placement of glazed elements. Carpet tiles and finishes are specified in soft, tonal shades with colours referencing nature. The acoustic design was a careful consideration with the use of ceiling mounted baffles and acoustic pinboards to maximise both acoustic comfort and privacy for confidential conversations.

Working in a live hospital environment, one of the other challenges was the complex staging requirements as well as the demanding programme to provide urgently needed new amenities.

Equally challenging we’re the spatial demands of the building – in a busy hospital bulging at the seams and with minimal space to spare, our interventions had to be efficiently planned to maximise the benefits to current users as well as providing flexibility for future strategic developments within the hospital.


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