Divided into four distinct parts for conferences, education, commercial tenancies and workplace, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s (ANMF) new 10-storey Victorian Branch headquarters in Melbourne is likened to the human body by its designers, Crone Architects.
“At its heart you have the auditorium, which is a complex but extremely productive space, the veins are the staircase and the facade is the skin that helps the insides stay habitable by reacting to the light. The brain at the top of the building contains the workplace spaces and staff that help keep everything running,” explains designer Ryan Williams.
Championing wages and conditions for nurses, midwives and carers, ANMF provides access to industrial, professional and legal representation, education and training facilities for more than 2,000 members in Victoria.
A big focus for the Federation is continuing professional development and education. Environmentally sustainable workplace practice is one topic attracting plenty of health professionals to the education spaces in the building, which achieved a five-star Green Star rating.
” Our members are working hard to change the large carbon footprint in hospitals’ says Lisa Fitzpatrick, ANMF (Victor ia n Branch) secretary. “So we wanted to make sure our building reflected that commitment in its design and operation.” Embedding environmentally sustainable design (ESD) early in the design process includes harnessed natural light penetration, city views and perimeter spaces for staff. “Because ESD had its place and wasn’t about ticking boxes we were able to orientate the building core to the north and centre it within the floorplates,” says Williams.
An accent placed on “open, airy and light- filled” interior spaces is offset by sophisticated acoustic solutions, and ensures visual and physical connectivity between the organisation’s diverse functions.
“There is a clear aspiration for a collegiate culture, intercommunication, learning, and knowledge transfer, which is handled differently at various scales within the organisation – within team, within departments, between departments and between occupied floors.”
The thought given to long-term flexibility and adaptability will see the client get the most out of the diversity of working, teaching, learning and collaborating spaces which are future-proofed with technology, as far as is conceivable. A prime example is the oft-used,400-seat auditorium featuring locally-crafted, faceted timber walls and ceilings, a skylight “punching through” – bringing natural light in without impacting what’s going on – and operable walls for splitting the room .
Against a growing presence of online education, the nurse laboratories in the education spaces, with live streaming capabilities to the auditorium, play a “critical” role in simulating practical experience. One is equipped with bariatric capacity to ensure appropriate training, for those doing the lifting of today’s heavier patients.
Workplace amenities like generous sit – to – stand desks provide a sense of home for staff in preference to hot desks. Meanwhile bookable private rooms, and the staff hub’s array of seating, indoor nooks and outdoor spaces give people the “tools” they need. Overarching that is the intent of “creating an environment where people feel safe and comfortable in a space, alone or with others”, elaborates Williams.
The nurturing extends to next generation health professionals with student members having access to facilities like the bespoke library, practical device charging bays and bike storage.
Serving as a functional and visual link from the ground up through to the education levels – with built-in fitness benefits – is the gauze ·inspired staircase. Or there’s the smart lift. Circulation balances to “encourage interaction and cohesion between staff while wider quest ions of accessibility for the vision and hearing impaired, and degrees of mobility, were considered to provide a safe and healthy working environment.”
While designing an environment with “feel good factor was always on the radar’ says Williams, it’s the post occupancy period where its successful carriage has been affirmed.
This article was first published by Indesign Magazine #75 – Health and Wellness November 2018. Also see dissection by INDESIGNLIVE.COM