A lot of Australian healthcare projects have crossed my desk over the past year—some new, some still in progress—and the design Down Under has impressed me. What these projects have in common is an overall aesthetic that’s quite angular, sleek, and cool. I can’t decide if, as a patient, this would be off-putting to me in reality. Still, I’m drawn to the architecture.  

Australia is (almost literally) a world away from the U.S., with a different healthcare system and unique cultural differences, but I like looking at these projects and thinking “what if?” There are several big-budget, high-profile Aussie projects in the works, like the new Royal Adelaide Hospital slated for 2016, on my must-watch list. But here are a few recently finished facilities that have piqued my interest right now. Click on the links for images and more details.

  • The not-for-profit Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Cancer Centre in Sydney opened last fall and provides holistic, integrated cancer care for public and private patients. Designed by HDR Rice Daubney (Sydney), it has a sophisticated look with a 10-story-high atrium and layers of industrial texture via wide swaths of perforated screens and fritted glass. I think it’s beautiful—even if it’s not the warm-and-cozy environment I would expect for this type of facility.
  • The Woods Bagot-designed Nepean Mental Health Centre (NMHC) in Penrith, New South Wales, houses 64 mental health beds and provides high-dependency, acute, and specialist mental health services for older adults. Again, the exterior architecture is arresting and angular; it opened for business in March 2014.
  • Medical research facilities are an interesting subset of our industry, and in Australia, Wilson Architects has had a hand in some recent projects that are worth checking out. Its most recent is the University of Queensland Centre for Advanced Imaging, which opened in 2013 (watch the Healthcare Design site for more details/images on that one, coming soon). I’m also a fan of the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane, which Wilson says is the most comprehensive biomedical bench-to-bedside facility in the Southern Hemisphere.