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Hospital courtyard transformed into “restful sanctuary”

Hospital courtyard transformed into “restful sanctuary - Braemar Private Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand

Bringing new life to Braemar courtyard

The brief from Braemar Hospital was simple: create a courtyard that is "more like a restful hotel rather than a traditional hospital."

Braemar, which is the country’s second largest private hospital on a single site, has a commitment to a “green” environment. The hospital is the first green-rated hospital in New Zealand, with a comparative rating of 4 out of a possible five stars based on the Australian green-rating system.

The hospital, which has served the Waikato community for more than 85 years, built the second stage of its $46 million new premises last year on the corner of Kahikatea Dr and Ohaupo Rd.  The first stage was completed in 2009. A third stage in planned within two years.

They wanted a courtyard that would be simple, manageable and with an “X factor” in keeping with the hospital’s elegant design and layout.

The courtyard space was on the hospital’s upper floor. “It was logistically challenging,” says Higher Ground Landscapes’ owner Mark Sherson.  “Everything had to be transported by service lift from the hospital car park to the site.   That meant more than 100 trips transporting river rocks, sand, plants and paving stones.” Tonnes of product was transported by trolley, barrow and by hand.

The job also had to be completed within a fortnight while Braemar was closed for the Christmas break.

The 150 sq m courtyard is one of two courtyards on the hospital’s upper floor. It is visible from patients’ rooms and Braemar wanted a space that was restful and pleasant to look out on. The environment’s role in the delivery of patient care is well-documented and is a subject of growing interest to hospital planners, transforming how hospitals are designed and built. Views of nature and access to natural light are known to reduce stress and promote healing, offering “pleasurable distractions.”

Mark Sherson came up with a restful green sanctuary that incorporated Nikau palms, native grasses, river rocks and pavers. He says the design was in keeping with Braemar’s brief, focusing on “natural colours, native plants and geometric paving.”

The 150sq m space was first lined with a waterproof membrane protection to protect the existing waterproofed surface.  Pre-built timber platforms were used as a base for the pavers.  The quadrant s between the pavers were filled with medium river stones and 400 native plants (Phormium and carex), creating the impression of a geometric garden.  Large river stones (up to 100mm) and Nikau palms were added as larger visual features.   Climbers have been planted alongside the base of large free-standing screens that give privacy to patients with rooms bordering the courtyard.

Braemar chief executive Paul Bennett said Mark provided “a perfect mix of listening to the client, adding value with his design ideas and providing concept plans that fit the brief.”

We love the finished design. It is amazing.”

Sherson had previously done work on the entranceway to Braemar. He says he is pleased with the finished work. “It gives the impression of full-depth landscaping. In reality all plants are contained in pots.”

A green hospital - Braemar Private Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand

A green hospital

Braemar’s other green features include:

  • Solar water heating and solar panels
  • High efficiency lighting
  • Optimal insulation
  • Efficient chillers and boilers
  • Healthy materials
  • Low VOC paints
  • Sustainably sourced finishing timbers and veneers
  • Maximum use of natural light with windows in operating theatres, roof lights and internal courtyards
  • Matting made from recycled car tyres
  • Carpet tiles with recycled content
  • On-site waste management plan

View photos >>

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