Public + Retail Space Colour Maestro Award Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House is an independent Charitable Trust providing a ‘home away from home’ environment for families with seriously ill children needing to travel to Wellington Hospital for specialist medical treatment. Families live in the house for as long as their child needs to be treated, for some families it may be one night, for others it may be many months. The entire length of the stay is free.
The original Ronald McDonald House built in 1991 catered for 10 families. In 2004 a future needs analysis report identified the need for accommodation of 25 to 29 bedrooms. The subsequent development of Wellington hospital and discussions between the Trustees and house management anticipated the need for 34 bedrooms.
Archaus Architects Ltd was first approached in 2006 to produce a proposal for a new House. In 2007 the Trust obtained Resource Consent to develop their adjoining property at 30-34 Riddiford Street, occupied by a two storey building of 1980s vintage and used for retail and commercial activity. This building was to be demolished to make way for the new house, with the existing property at 36-38 Riddiford Street sold off. Due to prevailing circumstances, this scenario was no longer optimal for the Trust.
In mid 2009, Archaus Architects Ltd and the consultant team investigated a number of alternative design options, including value engineering the original consented proposal. In February 2010, an alternative scenario was considered in terms of demolishing the existing premises and using both sites to construct a more regular building, which did not require basement carparking. This was approved and formed the basis for the building we see today.
In considering the historical side of Newtown, there are a lot of different facades, many are three-dimensional with cornices and other details. The new house has a large scale frontage, four storeys in height to 14 metres and spanning 60 metres in length.
Through the use of the Terracotta tiles in two shades of grey, interspersed with large green painted panels of Resene – Limerick, the regular Newtown pattern of 4-7 metre building widths has been reflected in the façade composition, along with relief detail, emphasised by recesses and surface mounted external louvres.
The design has been carefully considered to ensure that all adjacent bays are distinctive, articulating the expression of a group of individual buildings, while maintaining a design language that unifies the building as a whole. The interior spaces behind have been carefully planned to respond to the varying external treatments.
It is relatively easy to lay out appropriate room occupancies, sizes, finishes and other basic criteria that are required for a facility that will accommodate multiple families. However the design of the new Ronald McDonald House required much more than that. The house is not just a place for families to sleep, but provides a safe haven in distressing times. Each room or space reflects the needs of families for comfort, compassion and convenience. Families staying in the house are undergoing one of the most stressful situations they have ever faced, dealing with the fear and anguish of a critically ill child. The design requires imagination and ingenuity to provide all that within the scope of the budget, especially with a diverse range of room types and spaces throughout the house.
The four-storey Ronald McDonald House covers 3500 square metres of floor space and includes several lounges, a communal kitchen and dining room, a computer room, gym, theatre, art room, offices and a meeting room as well as two levels of accommodation (mixture of one bed and apartment units), with 34 rooms in total. One of the non-negotiables in the brief was that the house must not feel like a hotel with long straight corridors. On the accommodation levels, bathrooms were pulled out with bedroom entry door recesses set back, so there was spatial variation along the corridor. Colours change as you navigate along the corridor. This helps families identify their assigned rooms. The inspiration for the colour palette was an image of sunlight filtering through a canopy of leaves. Using the Resene Colour Palette Generator tool (www.resene.com/picturepalette) Honour Creative imported photos taken of sunlit leaves and flowers – cabbage trees, pohutukawa, flax flowers, puka puka, leucadendron, kowhai and grasses – and extracted their key colours. These were edited to create a palette that offered enough depth to cover the variety of spaces, producing a family of hues and tones. The design considers all the dimensions of the interior spaces, drawing on colour, light, graphics, form and layering to provide a hopeful, contemplative, comforting and all-enveloping ambiance. Colour can be uplifting and restorative, both visually and emotionally, especially in an environment where families seek retreat from the hospital.
The ground level open plan office is finished in Resene Crescent with a Resene Write-on Wall Paint finish on selected staff and office walls so that staff can use those walls as a whiteboard.The gym is finished in Resene Kombi. Moving up to level 1, the computer room is finished in Resene Rock Spray, the family lounge in Resene Wasabi and Resene Barely There. Level 2 corridor walls are warm in hues of red, orange and yellow with Resene Fahrenheit, Resene Erica, Resene Ayers Rock, Resene Fuel Yellow, Bloomsbury House wallpaper and Wildlife Savage wallpaper. Level 3 corridor walls are finished in tones of blues and greens with Resene Zylone Sheen tinted to Resene Saratoga, Resene Topspin, Resene Casal, Resene Bismark and Bloomsbury House wallpaper. Neutral colours are used throughout the project for other areas with Resene Alabaster on ceilings, Resene Barely There on skirtings and door frames, Resene Eighth Mondo on ground level doors, Resene Double Masala on first, second and third level doors and Resene Cloud on general wall areas. Since opening the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia in 1974, Ronald McDonald House Charities has grown. There are now over 322 Ronald McDonald Houses in 32 countries and regions around the world. Since the first Ronald McDonald House was opened in Wellington in 1991 thousands of families have been cared for.
Architectural specifier: Archaus Architects Ltd
Client: Ronald McDonald House Wellington Trust
Interior designer and colour selection:
Painting contractor: Kensington Painting,
A & D Decorators
Photographer: Paul McCredie
Resene supports the Ronald McDonald House
programme and donated all the paint for this