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To your good health

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The new Auckland City Hospital centralises the city's acute adult services into one purpose-built, nine-level ‘village'

To your good health

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When a civil emergency such as a major earthquake strikes, hospitals become a city's critical lifeline. They have to be relied on to remain fully functional throughout even the worst disaster.

The structural design developed by consulting engineers Beca incorporates a series of braced steel frames on the outside of the building and adjacent to the central atrium. These give it the strength to withstand severe wind conditions and the loads of a one-in-a-1000- year earthquake.

This arrangement afforded maximum flexibility when planning the interior layout of the building. When combined with an innovative flooring system of precast concrete units supported on steel beams, it proved to be rapid and cost-effective to construct, says senior structural engineer André Kirstein.

"Flexibility for the future was another important design consideration. A key issue was to balance future flexibility against initial capital cost. The building had to be adaptable enough to accommodate changes in medical practice and in the equipment used."

Beca was also the building services consultant, designing air conditioning, medical gas, electrical, fire protection and plumbing systems.

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As well as providing patient comfort, the air conditioning system is a key part of the infection control for the hospital, providing clean, filtered air and controlling the direction of air movement through critical areas such as operating theatres, isolation rooms and surrounding areas.

The medical gas system pipes oxygen, anaesthetic and other medical gases directly to outlets in wards and operating theatres. The electrical system includes standby generators in the event of mains power failure and uninterrupted power supply for critical clinical equipment.

Beca was also the fire engineer and fire protection designer. The fire engineering philosophy is integrated with the hospital's emergency clinical response and allows local response within separate fire-rated wards, avoiding the need for widespread alarm sounding or evacuation. There are sprinklers throughout the hospital, with additional smoke alarms to assist in early detection and response to a fire.

Beca's structural and building services engineers worked closely as a team throughout the design process, as well as with the client, architect and user groups to successfully integrate the building's many systems.

The requirements of all design disciplines and the building contractor were factored into design decisions and balanced with the needs of those who would actually be using the building. Design concepts were evaluated and optimised for cost, buildability, future flexibility, ease of maintenance, energy and resource efficiency.

For further information, contact Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner Ltd, PO Box 6345, Wellesley St, Auckland 1, phone (09) 300 9000, fax (09) 309 9300. Website:www.beca.co.nz .

First published date: 12 October 2003

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