Signifying a revolutionary approach to cancer research and treatment, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre brings together the Garvan Institute research and St Vincent’s Mater hospital facilities into one cohesive and interactive environment.
The brief was to create a nurturing non-hospital setting that facilitates collaborative research between scientists, clinicians and patients, to deliver personalised medicine, and advance research through rapid translation to the clinic.
Filled with natural light, timber finishes and landscaping, the building is organised into functional zones, with the sequence of spaces moving from service core to laboratory, to write-up space, to meeting rooms, to the public atrium where all activity is visible to anyone entering the building. The design of the atrium encourages the trans-disciplinary exchange of culture and information.
Externally, each of the facades discretely addresses the different functional and cityscape requirements of the building. In a first for Australia, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre research laboratories use natural ventilation and mixed mode servicing to avoid the need to separate the spaces into compartments, further encouraging collaboration.
A dramatic earth-based artwork by renowned British artist Richard Long, installed in the atrium, enriches the user experience of the facility and reflects the healing nature of the space.
AWARDS: “The vision is to create a facility of international standing and world’s best practice by recruiting the highest quality clinicians, clinical researchers and biomedical scientists. The outcome of the research is to improve patient outcomes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.” (p26, Functional Brief; The Kinghorn Cancer Centre)
The design of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre offers an opportunity to make a unique place in the “translational” research landscape so that the vision is not just articulated in the building but the vision is the building. To explain, a “translational landscape” in the research and medical field is a landscape where, rather than working in isolation, laboratories and clinicians work collaboratively under the same roof, by sharing and exchanging information to produce better and quicker results.
In order to achieve innovative research and clinical workplaces a process of integrated thinking, teamwork and socialized design is required. The role of the architect in this process is to facilitate a design solution informed by these integration imperatives. These are deduced by understanding the research and cultural aspirations of the client and by an understanding, not just of the functional fundamentals, but of the embedding of the client values and objectives.
The usual domain of the architect can often be the design of just “space”: our contention is that the design of this new workplace is the synthesis of “people, process and place” leading to a holistic design solution. In simple terms this means a building that is inclusive of all these factors and one that is derived from understanding, clarity, logic and function imbued with humanity and ultimately becomes a joyful, respectful and memorable human experience.
The plan follows a simple functional analysis – laboratories need discrete servicing, and in a challenged site, were located to the south. The discrete core becomes the south end of the building. People in socializing and meeting spaces need sunlight, hence the “village” atrium was placed in the sun-drenched north.
For the patient experience, principles involving the human spirit and human comfort were important to the choice and expression of materials, determining, for example that timber is a material that makes people feel comforted and inclusive as distinct from typical health institution vinyl or ceiling tiles that make people feel they are in a functional process oriented environment. Equally shape, volume and visual tactility are seen to contribute to a sense of wellbeing.
The design aspiration of the Kinghorn Cancer Centre is to encourage physical and intellectual interaction between research and clinical staff and of most importance, to patients to provide the opportunity for new ideas and thoughts to be exchanged and formulated. These interactions may come about through chance meetings on the way to shared meeting rooms, common tea-stations and kitchenetttes or simply, whilst crossing a bridge over the atrium on the way to the toilet!....conversations and chance meetings leading to groundbreaking discoveries!
SUSTAINABILITY The Kinghorn Cancer Centre has been designed to achieve a sustainable outcome with a minimum of 4 Green Stars. The guideline approach has been adopted as the unique model represented by this development has no category under current Green Star assessment. In terms of functional programme, it is laboratory, office and clinical treatment and this unique cross-programme of functions sets it apart from other buildings.
The northern sunscreen serves to protect the internal spaces from thermal overloading at the same time as exposing the building’s interior form and complexity through its diaphanous nature when daylight falls away. At high level on the northern façade, a clerestory window directs sunlight into the depths of the atrium below in the winter and allows an influx of shaded, diffused light into this space in the summer. At low level, a similar window brings sunlight into the atrium space, filling the clinical waiting areas with light and optimism.
The western sunscreen is also composed of a hung aluminium louvre sunscreen over a glass façade that forms a cladding over the atrium and meeting room “functions”.
The wintergarden run across two storeys of the building, as a verdant sunscreen to the office space and clinical programme allocated to the building.
The building is fitted with water saving outlets and appliances such as 5 star tapware, 4 star Wcs, 6 star urinals. Sanitary fixtures and tapware meet WELs ratings.
Hot water is preheated with energy from saving up to 70% water heating gas consumption each year. Rainwater is harvested from the roof and collected in a rainwater tank of approximately 50,000 litres, to minimise potable water use. The Centre was developed with a comprehensive ESD design strategy incorporating best practice outcomes for sustainability, while balancing program, project and maintenance cost, and design.
SALUTOGENIC APPROACH The design of TKCC workplace is the synthesis of “people, process and place” leading to a holistic design solution that is:
informed and articulated by the people of TKCC informed and articulated by the “patient experience” informed and integrated with the centre’s strategic direction – its business and its process informed by the imperative to make a “place” for people – a research and work habitat as distinct from a work facility .... by “people, process, place” in simple terms we mean a building that is inclusive of all factors and one that is derived from understanding, clarity, logic and function whilst imbued with humanity and ultimately joyful, respectful and memorable human experience.
BUILDING STRATEGY In broad terms we believe that there are some basic planning and social principles that underpin a place that aspires to a collaborative, respectful and innovative “place”. The use of principles to establish design is a fundamental tool and one that we use to underpin the creative process of synthesising the diverse issues in making place.
For example, when discussing patient experience there must surely be principles involving the human spirit and the human condition – to do with the expression of certain materials and configuration of space; whether timber is a material that makes people feel comforted and inclusive as distinct from plastic laminate that makes people feel that they are in a functional process oriented environment, and whether room shape, volume and visual tactility contribute to a sense of wellbeing.
RESEARCH APPLICATION The general arrangement and disposition of spaces is fundamental to human inclusive places – analogy can be useful here; an internal environment as “village” for instance suggests a place that relies on community flourishing in public and private realms, creating a place of human enrichment. This can be contradistinctional to a modern city that tends to homogeneity and undifferentiated character. Clearly we believe the village analogy is appropriate in a project involving the fragility of the human condition – an unspoken and implicit caring for fundamental human values.
This analogy can underpin an architectural strategy – broadly considering the vitality of human interaction and interdependence as the organising imperative; a “place” that is central to the planning of the building – a place at which intersection occurs, perambulation animates the volume and the social/work functions of coffee, eating, discourse and observation provide theatricality to the whole.
DESUBG APPROACH The design aspiration of the Kinghorn Cancer Centre is to encourage physical and intellectual interaction between research and clinical staff and of most importance, to patients to provide the opportunity for new ideas and thoughts to be exchanged and formulated. These interactions may come about through chance meetings on the way to shared meeting rooms, common tea-stations and kitchenettes or simply, whilst crossing a bridge over the atrium on the way to the toilet! Conversations and chance meetings leading to groundbreaking discoveries!
Vertical movement and perambulation are essential components of buildings and within this design solution, contiguous internal space and lifts, bridges and stairs are located to encourage this exchange of culture and information across the diverse user groups.
FUNCTIONALITY The plan follows a simple functional analysis – laboratories need discrete servicing, and in a challenged site, were located to the south. The discrete core becomes the south end of the building. People in socialising and meeting spaces need sunlight, hence the “village” atrium was placed in the sun-drenched north.