Hospital with design based on the idea of a ‘living tree’ by Lyons and Conrad Gargett


Architecture firms Lyons and Conrad Gargett describe the design concept for the Lady Cilento Children’s Medical center as “the idea of a residing tree”, with plant-motivated cladding, wildlife-themed artworks and a network of areas primarily based on trunks and branches.

The design concept is based on the idea of a ‘living tree’. ‘This parti was developed in the early planning stages through a series of workshops with the hospital’s users and stakeholders’, say Lyons.

95,000m2 hospital is a significant new urban addition to Brisbane’s Southbank precinct. Huge green and purple fins shade the glass facades of this children’s hospital, designed to match the colouring of native Bougainvillea plants.

Keen to avoid the conventional model of podium and  tower, the architects designed a 12-storey building featuring two generous atriums, thought of as the tree trunks, help visitors and staff to easily navigate the paediatric facility. Numerous double-height spaces – the branches – that extend beyond the facade to form balconies and a series of roof terraces, developed through workshops with the hospital’s users and stakeholders. Each branch is oriented toward a key landmark in the surrounding city – to the high rise buildings of central Brisbane, to the adjacent parklands, to the distant mountains and to the Brisbane River. Thy also serve to connect inside and outside and bring natural daylight into the building.

The colours used on the outside and inside of the building are derived from the colours of the Queensland landscape. These include muted neutral colour tones found in the Queensland outback landscape together with the more vibrant colours of the State’s exotic birds, rainforest butterflies and flora.

The same colour palette proceeds via the inside, exactly where wall imagery and sculptures feature parrots, butterflies, beetles and bugs. Lyons imagined these would supply partaking interruptions for the hospital’s youngest patients.

Access to green space is a key element of the design. Rooftop gardens, green walls, enclosed courtyard gardens and views to surrounding parklands all form part of the hospital’s healing environment. Patios and gardens cover the building’s roof, offering patients a place for recreation – an integral part of many rehabilitation programs.












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