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In the new Auckland City Hospital, expansive glazing, landscaping and colour provide natural light and a visual connection to the outdoors



Sterile, cold and clinical are often words used to describe public hospitals. The interior of the new Auckland City Hospital was carefully designed to avoid this stereotype, says Jasmax architect and director Richard Harris.

"We wanted to break down the feelings of intimidation some people have by creating a welcoming and calming environment with quality natural light."

Jasmax teamed up with Australian specialist healthcare planners MSJ to create an internal design that uses light, colour, layout and architectural details to achieve these objectives.

Along with large, horizontal windows on the exterior, a large central atrium provides ample natural light to the interior of the nine-level building. The landscaped internal courtyard at its base provides a sanctuary for staff and patients in which to walk, rest and meet with family and friends.

Floor-to-ceiling windows at the end of each ward corridor provide additional natural light. In all the ward rooms, the windowsills have been set at a height so that patients in bed can look outside.


Colour plays a significant role in the hospital's interior design philosophy, says the architect. Shades of orange and red promote a feeling of warmth in the public spaces, while bright splashes of colour signify entry points such as ambulance bays, the emergency department and the children's entry. A palette of neutral, earthy colours, accentuated by light timber joinery and woodgrain-finish floors, were used to make patients feel more comfortable and at home.

Bridges across the atrium help to create the sense of an internal street through the hospital, a central spine that aids in orientation. The bridges also provide views of the atrium and public spaces for patients in internal wards.

First published date: 12 October 2003

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