Understanding how people interact with a newbuilding is important for any architect but it becomes crucial when a development features health facilities, where issues of privacy, navigation and psychological security are paramount.
Before construction, around half of this five-storey, 10,496m² development in Newcastle, New South Wales, was pre-let to Hunter New England Health to house a community health centre and related health services. The remainder of the building, developed by Austcorp, was earmarked for retail units at ground level and A-grade commercial offices on the top two stories, overlooking the city and harbour.
Patients' needs were considered by introducing easy navigation, a domestic colour palette, and a large skylight that provides a reassuring link with the outdoors, says architect Chris Acevski of Suters Architects.
"Every architect is different, but I placed myself in the situation of being in a strange environment where you can't relate to anything. If you can see the sky, you can see what's happening outside. It's something you can relate to minute by minute and hour by hour."
Other calming elements include a warm, earthy colour palette for the interior, akin to the colours found in a domestic setting. A curved metallic-red wall runs the length of the building, providing a continuous wayfinding device for people visiting the polyclinic. Visitors to the needle exchange clinic are directed to the service with discreet signage on an entrance that is visually integrated with the rest of the exterior.