Sunshine Coast University Hospital

In late 2010, the Queensland Government sought submissions for a public private partnership (PPP) for the delivery of a major public tertiary teaching hospital at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Spanning over 20 hectares, the facility was reserved to maintain an initial 450 bed hospital with associated clinical support, teaching facilities, and a mental health unit scheduled to be opened in 2016. Capacity will increase to 738 beds that are scheduled for commission by 2020/21 with expansion capacity to 900 beds.

Place Design Group provided initial landscape concepts for Exemplar Health, the successful bid consortium. The landscape component scored highly during the assessment process and played a significant part in the success of the bid. Detailed design works commenced in mid-2011, followed by site works commencing in late 2012 and hospital handover due in June 2016.

The landscape concepts that Place Design Group presented, and that have been implemented are based on achieving four thematic principles of:

  • A welcoming and inclusive place
  • A functional, safe and sustainable landscape
  • A landscape that reflects the Sunshine Coast character
  • A healing and revitalising landscape

The site is partially surrounded by paperbark and cabbage tree palm forests and much of the planting themes, particularly on the road frontage are based on this character. The Place Design Group project team proposed that the mature Livistona palms that were originally destined for demolition in an adjacent transmission corridor clearing, be salvaged, and as such were transplanted to the hospital site. Over 25 of these large specimens ranging in height to 12m were transplanted and have continued to thrive.

An advanced plant procurement contract was also prepared by Place Design Group to ensure that over 200 large semi-advanced and advanced tree specimens could provide shade and initial scale within the landscape upon opening.

The Centrepiece of the hospital landscape is an enclosed central courtyard measuring approximately 140m by 40m, forming the green heart of the main building complex. This particular space is complemented by retail, dining and entrance zones of the hospital and is intended to provide an appealing outdoor leisure area for staff, patients and visitors alike.  The landscape had been designed to accommodate outdoor dining, leisure activities for both children and adults alike as well as spaces that allow for quiet, contemplative and mediative activities.

By creating a welcoming and inclusive setting, the landscape design alleviates the traditional institutional perceptions associated with hospitals by providing legible and approachable spaces that contribute to an overall sense of calmness and wellness. It will feel accessible and comfortable for all users, with a special reference to indigenous people through plant selection and the incorporation of indigenous themed and created public artworks integrated into the landscape.

Building construction is now well under-way, with the majority of the main building structures nearing full height and completion. With initial landscape construction to commence in May, and the landscaped area to be progressively completed over the coming 18 months into 2016.

*Images courtesy of Architectus