News / April 2015
Friday 24 April 2015
How can hospital workplace design help attract and retain nurses?

Hospitals the world over have trouble keeping nurses. HASSELL and The University of Melbourne are working together on a research project to see if hospital workplace design can lift nurse numbers in Australia and the United Kingdom.

The research will identify physical elements in the hospital environment that affect the attraction and retention of nursing staff. It will also explore what hospital workplace designs are appropriate to help achieve these outcomes, with a view that attracting the best talent to an organisation will lead to increased productivity and performance, and a happier, more engaged workforce.

The research will build on previous research from HASSELL relating to staff attraction and retention in the commercial sector. It will also expand on existing studies about the effects of hospital design on nursing staff, including work done by Professor James Buchan, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and The University of Melbourne, who is a global advisor for this research project.

The Chief Investigator on the project is Dr. Lucio Naccarella, a Senior Research Fellow from the University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. He said the project would have “broader policy, practice and research implications for hospital nursing leaders, management and staff.”

Megan Reading, HASSELL Principal and a former nurse, is also involved in the study. She believes “the research will bring the health design community a better understanding of the constraints that affect the daily working lives of nurses. It will highlight evidence based opportunities for better hospital workplace design.”.

Several hospitals in Australia and the United Kingdom will be involved in the study, which will include consultation with key stakeholders and a survey of nurses to identify areas of concern. HASSEL will then undertake a design exercise to explore potential responses to the issues raised.

The research is made possible by a Research Connections Grant from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry and Science. The final project report will be released at the end of this year.


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Tuesday 21 April 2015
A true partner in the HASSELL journey

Tony McCormick, one of the pioneers of Landscape Architecture at HASSELL, has retired after 36 years with the practice. Tony leaves behind a legacy of major projects, mainly in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Shanghai.

Managing Director Rob Backhouse said: “Tony was involved in a series of projects that established an approach to landscape architecture that set HASSELL apart. Our deep understanding of land systems and their importance to sustainability is an important legacy of Tony’s contributions at HASSELL.”

The long list of major works Tony has designed includes the Southern Oceans and Asian Elephant exhibits at Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo, the waterside parks at Sydney’s Little Manly Point, Yarra Bay and Mort Bay and the ground-breaking NSW Better Drainage Guidelines. These guidelines were the basis for the water sensitive urban design principles are now mandatory for all Australian developments.

One of Tony’s greatest achievements is the remarkable Millennium Parklands, a 450 ha urban parkland constructed for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. This beautiful and sustainable urban park, designed in partnership with Peter Walker and Partners and Bruce Mackenzie Design, transformed one of Sydney’s most contaminated and degraded sites into one of the greatest legacies of Sydney’s “Green Games”.

Tony says he found working at HASSELL easy, because his values were aligned with the practice’s values.

“HASSELL creates spaces and places that are in harmony with, and bring benefits to, their surroundings and users – they have a positive effect,” said Tony.

“HASSELL designers achieve this by, as  fundamental first steps, knowing the site, understanding the client’s and users’ requirements, then making sure they are clear about the experiences they wish to give people in these places. Then they work hard to design special places to deliver these experiences. Our designers have to think things through, starting from the moment a person enters a site and getting right down to the fine details, to the elements that, upon discovery, bring delight and wonder.”

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Tuesday 14 April 2015
Is bigger always better for health precincts?

The benefits of greater cross-disciplinary collaboration and co-location in large health and research precincts are well-documented but without careful planning – particularly of the spaces between buildings – there can be side effects according to a recently released report called Walk, Talk, Work.

The report, based on a recent study tour of the USA, UK, Europe and Australia by HASSELL Researcher Michaela Sheahan, found that some of the world’s largest health and research precincts aren’t achieving expected levels of collaboration.

“I was anticipating that more co-location of institutions would lead to greater collaboration. But as it turns out, bigger is not necessarily better, especially when it comes to promoting collaboration between people working in neighbouring buildings as opposed to within each building,” says Michaela.

“Other issues that need to be carefully considered for large-scale precincts include the way the public spaces around the building are programmed for activities and designed to encourage people visiting and working in the precinct and its surrounding neighbourhoods to make better use of them.

“If everybody’s inside the buildings with no reason to go out, the public spaces in between the buildings are weakened, and the whole precinct suffers from a lack of activity.”

Michaela’s research is particularly relevant as governments seek to anchor the development of cities in knowledge and innovation. They are increasingly turning to the co-location of health and research institutions in tertiary hospital precincts to deliver economic dividends.

Some of the health precincts in Michaela’s case studies struggled to support more than a handful of restaurants and retail businesses despite being located in areas frequented daily by enough people to populate a small city. The loss of small-scale street level business makes it harder to achieve the goals of de-institutionalisation and mixed-use activity.

“What I learned was that precinct size is no indicator of success on those goals in particular. Clustering of facilities needs to be accompanied by a vibrant public realm to enable interaction and activity on site, as well as connection to the surrounding community,” Michaela concludes.

“Thoughtful urban planning that encourages diverse activity within a precinct is the key to providing great public spaces for healthcare professionals to walk, talk, think and work.”

Michaela’s research was made possible by National Association of Women in Construction 2014 International Women’s Day scholarship sponsored by Cult Design.

View the full report, Walk, Talk, Work, including detailed case studies of the eight health precincts.

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Tuesday 7 April 2015
HASSELL Fellow to head his profession

HASSELL Fellow Ken Maher is a powerful advocate for the importance of design. That will be the focus of his new role as first President Elect and then President of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA).

“The institute is an advocate for the critical role that architects have to play in the future of our cities and our communities,” he says.

“Our focus as architects is on the way we live, work and play, the way people respond to the urban environment. That has to be at the forefront of our investment in buildings, infrastructure and public places to ensure the sustainability and liveability of our cities and towns. My interests in this leadership role will be to work with my colleagues in demonstrating the role of architecture and design as a social force in enriching our daily lives. I would like to thank the institute and all its members for the opportunity to do that.”

The AIA is the peak body for the architectural profession in Australia, representing 12,000 members. Ken will become its national President Elect in May this year working closely with 2015 President Jon Clements, and then President for 12 months from May 2016.

Ken has been a design leader at HASSELL for over two decades. A former Chairman and Principal, his role as the inaugural HASSELL Fellow allows him to focus on key projects such as the renewal of Sydney’s Darling Harbour as well as taking on important appointments outside the practice including as Professor of Practice at UNSW. Earlier this year, Ken was appointed President of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and joined the Board of UrbanGrowth NSW.

Image source: Business Events Sydney 

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