Queensland Children's Hospital recognised with international design award

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The redesign of the entertainment precinct on Level 6 was recently recognised with a prestigious A’Design award

An innovative design project to help children and their families navigate their way through the Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH) has been acclaimed by international design leaders.

The redesign of the entertainment precinct on Level 6 was recently recognised with a prestigious A’Design award, described as one of the world’s largest and influential design accolades.

The Journey to Fun project brought together ideas from Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) staff and patients, alongside researchers and designers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Design Lab to reimagine the hospital’s entertainment precinct, creating a fun visual identity that was distinguishable from the rest of the QCH.

The Level 6 design incorporates rainforest decals with parrots and feather imagery on the walls and floors to direct patients and their families through the entertainment precinct to partner sites like the Starlight Express Room, the Juiced Studio, KidZone and Radio Lollipop.

Lynne Seear, Strategic Lead Arts in Health for CHQ said this successful design project shows the benefits of co-design in health care, incorporating the voices of those who use and work in the space, alongside designers, artists, and architects.

“It was our hope that Level 6 would become famous in terms of what it has to offer children and their families, offsetting the clinical environment at the QCH with opportunities for fun, play, respite and relaxation,” Lynne Seear said.

“Play is also essential to growth, and just because a child is in a healthcare setting, doesn’t mean they stop developing.”

QCH level 6 design team
(LEFT TO RIGHT, TOP TO BOTTOM) QUT's Jen Seevick, Kirsten Baade, Evonne Miller, CHQ's Lynne Seear and Experience Transformation manager Matt Douglas, and QUT's Gillian Ridsdale were recognised for their research and design work.

QUT Design Lab’s Associate Professor Jen Seevinck added it was an honour for the team to be recognised for their creative problem-solving efforts.

“Wayfinding for children and their families in hospital can be stressful. Our goal was to alleviate any confusion, help families navigate through the entertainment precinct, and also create a place of joy and distraction with a strong visual identity.”

QCH staff identified the hospital’s central parrot sculpture and architectural tree concept in co-design workshops, which artist and designer Kirsten Baade was able to work with.

“Through my research, I found that Australian parrots do a lot of playful things in nature like cuddling up to each other and hanging upside down, so I included these quirks in my designs and also personified some of the parrots to mirror things that the kids might do for fun in hospital,” she said.

This theme continues in the decals at the elevator entrances to Level 6; one with forest imagery, based on North Queensland tropical rainforests and the other, country fields, based on the Southern Downs region.

The A-Design accolade commended the design’s integration of the hospital’s architecture and surrounding environment, as well as the unique co-design and interdisciplinary approach with stakeholders which was key to the project’s success.