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PRESS // Natural Healing: Fiona Stanley Hospital

Projects | Words Michael Keniger

6 October 2014



A flagship facility for Western Australia’s health reform program, the Fiona Stanley Hospital employs evidence-based design principles to make tangible contributions to patients’ wellbeing and recovery.


The acceleration in the upgrading and renewal of healthcare systems and services

in Australia has substantially increased investment in large-scale, integrated health

facilities. These facilities advance healthcare capabilities, achieve efficiencies of scale and benefit from the rapid pace of innovation in medical technology. The Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth is one of the latest and among the very largest of the nation’s comprehensive health and hospital projects. With a budget of $2 billion, it is Western Australia’s largest single building project and the flagship of the state’s health reform program. The range of design and medical planning services required by the size, nature and location of the project led to the selection and appointment of architecture firms Hassell, Hames Sharley and Silver Thomas Hanley working jointly as the Fiona Stanley Hospital Design Collaboration (FSHDC). Construction commenced in 2009 and practical completion was achieved on schedule in December 2013. Subsequently, however, the complexities of commissioning such a large entity and enterprise have caused the opening of the hospital to be rescheduled as a series of stages commencing in October 2014. By necessity, those major hospitals that provide comprehensive tertiary and quaternary care rely on a broad spectrum of clinical and health-related disciplines.


Further, they increasingly stand to benefit from the rapid take-up of proven medical and technical advances through translational research partnerships and from the integrated education of clinicians, nurses and medical support staff. They are large, complex organizations governed and managed with a focus on the effective and efficient delivery of healthcare. As hospitals have become larger and more centralized, there has been some concern that operational management and clinical systems would subordinate the patients’ needs to those of the institution – a concern that has stimulated an increased focus on the patient experience.



As the current generation of hospitals and healthcare facilities has evolved, so too the

delivery of healthcare services has been recast to embrace patient-centric practices

that position the patient as an active participant in the healthcare journey. This is

strongly aligned with the adoption of team-based healthcare tailored to the

individual needs and situation of each patient. Evidence-based design has further

enhanced traditional, hospital-based medicine and clinical care: essentially, research

into the moderating effects of the physical environment has found that the nature

and quality of the environmental experience make tangible contributions to patients’

wellbeing and to their rate of recovery. Such factors as the quality of light, privacy

within ward settings, views of green space, access to outdoor space, the ease of

wayfinding and clear orientation, among others, have been demonstrated to improve

recovery. Evidence-based design strongly influenced the development and design of

the Fiona Stanley Hospital through a sharpened focus on the relationship with the

natural environment, the generation of comprehensive strategies for effective

wayfinding and a significant increase in the number of inpatient beds provided in

sole-occupancy rooms to over 80 percent of the total.


Located on a 32-hectare, greenfield site at Murdoch to the south of Perth’s CBD, the

Fiona Stanley Hospital is the location of not just core healthcare services but also

medical research, medical education and a range of allied specialist entities including

the state centre for rehabilitation services and a major mental health unit. Colocation

with neighbouring institutions including Murdoch University, the private St

John of God Murdoch Hospital and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

offers potential synergies for the further enhancement of Western Australia’s

healthcare program. It is envisaged that the increase in the critical mass of health

resources will foster a step change in the urban growth and development of the

precinct and the region.