Hospitals play a significant role in our communities. The provision of medical and health services is crucial to the health and wellbeing of the community, helping us live longer, and improving our quality of life. However to date the experience of many public and private hospitals and health precincts has often felt institutionalised, intimidating and unwelcoming. Like single-purpose office parks, hospital and health campuses often provide extremely limited access to quality food, retail, vibrant public spaces, and typically lack integration with their surrounds. The typical retail and amenity of hospitals no longer meets the needs or expectations of hospital communities. This has impacted staff’s mental wellbeing and delivery of health care, and the ability of patients’ families to provide additional care and support.

A complete rethink about the role that retail, amenity, public spaces and the broader “non-clinical experience” has in hospitals and health precincts is required. This will assist to capitalise on the indirect health and financial outcomes from better care, shorter stays and faster recuperations that retail and non clinical layer of hospitals can provide.

New hospital projects have a unique opportunity to deliver a retail and precinct experience that responds to this need. By delivering projects that better resonate with not just the hospital community but also the broader community. In doing so creating a unique precinct experience that will appeal to not just staff and patients, but also local communities. This can result in increased economic activity, delivering even greater retail amenity for staff and patients, but may also improve the healing of patients, the mental health of staff, and broader community health.

To ensure hospitals and health precincts deliver on this opportunity to be a catalyst for healthier communities, exploring some of the following principles may assist in the creation of the “modern health precinct”.

Principle 1

Create a genuine mixed use urban precinct, with a range of non health uses and experiences to create a genuine community.

  • Create a genuine mixed use urban precinct, with a range of non health uses and experiences to create a genuine community.
  • Have a range of uses – medical, retail, office, education, hotels, recreation, F&B and public spaces
  • A residential community is highly desirable to deliver after hours activation and provide housing for key workers near their place of work
  • Create an authentic street-based precinct with a focus on the pedestrian experience
  • Deliver a genuine community heart – a place where people meet, share knowledge, have a sense of connection
  • Provide a range of community assets, services, and amenity

Principle 2

Provide a unique and engaging precinct with a diverse range of spaces and experiences. A live & work, heal & rejuvenate, and play lifestyle

  • An authentic urban environment that reflects the local community
  • Public spaces that are flexible to accommodate a range of events and experiences, both small and large
  • A cultural and creative layer that engages with and welcomes all
  • A range of public spaces, both quiet and vibrant to facilitate social interaction, knowledge sharing, rejuvenation, and healing.
  • Spaces and amenity for passive and active recreational activities
  • A unique and eclectic ground plane with a range of retail and food and beverage traders that interface with a range of public spaces
  • A micro-climate that increases human comfort encouraging visitation
  • A place management approach to the non-health layers to curate both the hard and soft experiences

Principle 3

Deliver an Accessible & Connected precinct where people feel welcome, are emotionally connected to, and find easy to visit and access.

  • Pedestrian friendly routes that connect with the surrounding communities that has a landscape improving human comfort levels
  • Good public transport
  • In appropriate locations good convenient carparking that does not dominate the arrival experience
  • Public spaces that encourage work and non work-related social interaction
  • Public spaces, retail amenity, design, and a range of “non health” uses that invite the broader community to participate in the precinct
  • Retailers, experiences and amenity that welcome a diverse community

Principle 4

Alive over an extended day. Health workers and researchers, patients and their families do not work or visit during traditional hours. They require access to amenity, goods and services, and other experiences outside of the typical workday.

  • Shops, services, and food and drink operators that are open from early to late and meet the needs of the local health related community
  • Activities, events and retailers that are open after hours and on weekends
  • More retailers that recognise what patients and their families need at unusual hours of the day to make emotional situations less traumatic
  • A range of non-health related activities, businesses and retailers giving more reasons for people to stay after work or visit in the evenings (Thursday – Sunday)
  • Provisions of retail and experiences that invite the local community in enabling the delivery of a broader range of services and amenity open over a longer day for the health worker, patient and carer community

Principle 5

Facilitate Knowledge Sharing Co-locate hospitals with education, research, retail and commercial offices

  • Provision of public spaces, businesses and events to encourage informal meetings and increase “bump ins” to facilitate informal knowledge sharing
  • Places to facilitate the building of relationships and a community
  • Encourage other uses and amenity to create a precinct as a “place of choice” for work
  • Provision of a range of work spaces to accommodate both small and large businesses, health and non-health related businesses creating greater employment opportunities