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Auckland City Hospital Totara Ward


The challenge was to create a unit that was bright, light, cheerful and non-institutional while adhering to strict technical and clinical requirements.

The Motutapu Ward Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Auckland City Hospital provides expanded capacity for the Haematology and Blood Service with a new 30 bed inpatient ward. The majority of the ward has single bedrooms and the entire unit is positive pressure creating a best practice environment for these patients whom are often immune-compromised and need protection from ‘outside bugs’.

Ward room

The long stay nature of these patients (up to three months) and family/whanau requirements have been supported in the design with options for social interaction and wellness within the unit.

Key features are:

Ward and faciities

Klein Architects were challenged by the client to create a world class unit for the treatment of various blood diseases. The challenge was to create a unit that was bright, light, cheerful and non-institutional while adhering to strict technical and clinical requirements.

A further challenge to the design team was the fact that due to the high clinical nature of the unit only materials that were extremely cleanable could be used. Almost no fabric was used in the entire project.

Ward wall images

Colour was used for its therapeutic effect. The influence of colour in terms of health and wellbeing was particularly important for this ward, assisting patients to feel better in what was otherwise a negative situation. Bright, strong accent colours encourage patients to be stimulated and encourage activity. The colours which are reflective of nature are used to decrease anxiety and provide inspiration.

In the patient bedrooms the decision was made that as well as the view through the windows to the Hauraki gulf on one side and Mt Eden on the other, each single bed would have a full height photographic image of a natural New Zealand scene. This approach worked well with the clinical concept of biophillia where patients get better faster in an environment with a view and images of nature.

Ward room

The ward was split into an alpine zone on one side and a coastal zone on the other with a third small high dependency ‘forest’ zone in the centre.

With each of the zones a single Resene accent colour – Resene Beyond, Resene Hemisphere and Resene Koru – was carefully select to complement the colours and tone of the photographic prints and applied to the same wall as the print.

Auckland City Hospital Totara Ward

As a general concept the colours throughout the ward, the principles of using bright white Resene Half Sea Fog and high contrasts such as the dark door frames was applied to give the entire project a bright clean look. This also allowed bold gestures of colour at important points such as the staff bases, reception, end of corridors, the wellness and treatment room and the whanau room.

Colour was used throughout the project to reinforce the wayfinding which is an important factor of a medical environment.

The reception and staff bases used bright white curved forms with backlit brightly coloured perspex panels. The bright colour was continued in the flooring and a brightly painted wall using Resene Las Palmas and Resene Kumutoto. The colour is read from the corridors drawing visitors and patients to the staff bases.

Exersize area

Colour and imagery also reinforces identity of a space empowering patients and visitors to navigate the ward more independently.

The use of a dark vinyl and sweeping curves helped break up the clinical look of the corridors; this was further reinforced by the clean modern lines and bright white colour of the walls. The use of timber look products in the flooring and joinery also helped deinstitutionalise the look of the bedrooms and other spaces as well as being in keeping with the natural themes used.

Careful consideration was given to the furniture and fabrics in this project in a way that is unusual for a hospital. A lot of time was spent between the design and staff team to ensure the clinical equipment and furniture wherever possible was complementary to the colours selected.

The success of this project was its ability to use colour both to allow the special graphics and objects to look their best and to accentuate moments throughout the project with bright splashes of colour to bring lightness and cheerfulness to the unit that is often commented on by staff, patients and their families.

Architectural specifier: Klein Architects
Building contractors: Hawkins Construction
Client: Auckland District Health Board
Other key contributor – project manager: John Dobrowolski
Other key contributor – services engineers: Beca
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2015

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