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Art and Nature in Hospitals
Detail: Two new children’s hospitals in Australia, Queensland Children's Hospital in Brisbane and the new Melbourne Royal Children's Hospital, have integrated nature and art to create healing environments and significantly contributed to medical architecture.

Art and nature are primary sources of inspiration in both projects, woven into every element and stage of design - from the conception of floor plans and the shapes and orientation of rooms, to the integration of sustainability principles and the colors used in the buildings. These hospitals incorporate healing gardens, interactive art, performance spaces and reference the natural environments that surround them in ingenious ways. Their design principles are born out of wide research in the disciplines of medicine and architecture, and in the needs and experiences of local stakeholders and the hospitals' users - from children and their families to doctors, nurses and managers.

Melbourne's new Royal Children's Hospital draws inspirations from many sources: from the pioneering work of American academic Roger Ulrich and biologist E. O. Wilson and Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson to examine the way nature and the elements affect our moods and sense of spiritual well-being, to create a "park within a hospital, a hospital in a park" and embraces "childlike nuances", to demark itself as a building for children to engage with. The floor plan is based on the idea of a village drawing from Reggio Emilia education philosophy.

Queensland Children's Hospital won the 2010 Arts and Health Australia Award for Excellence in Architecture. It is based on the idea of a tree; from the building's "trunk", multiple branches radiate, each leading to enormous picture windows with views across Brisbane. It is a low-rise hospital with clear pathways. The exterior of the hospital wears a skin of aluminium blades, each painted to mirror the foliage and blooms of its natural setting: jacaranda and bougainvillea. The hospital's interior draws on a colour wheel, the spectrum of which derives from images of Queensland's flora and fauna. Indigenous plants also feature in the development's five rooftop gardens; places for children to do rehabilitation exercises and retreat with family. Along with prominent sculptural commissions, the hospital will also display small-scale works positioned to engage children at their eye-level.
Source: Based on “Architecture turns a new leaf” by Lisa Power, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), December 10, 2010 Friday
Date: December 17 2010