The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) Melbourne provided a unique opportunity for Buro North to evolve the traditional paradigm of health facility wayfinding. The studio took an evidence-based approach collecting research in the form of staff and patient surveys, interviews and observation techniques to understand adult versus child wayfinding ability and to identify issues relating specifically to health environments such as patrons with English as a second language and the use of confusing and intimidating clinical terminology.
The wayfinding solution at the new Royal Children's Hospital focuses on the integration of landmarks at key navigational decision points, the primary objective being to create journeys that are easily describable, in a simple sentence, using basic English.
The Buro North team collaborated with illustrator Jane Reiseger to develop the wayfinding strategy. Together they have created a fun and lyrical pictorial signage system that likens the RCH to the natural world. As patients move through different floors in the hospital their journey takes them from 'underground' at the lower ground levels through to 'sky' on the top floor. Specific areas within each level are described in relation to an appropriate animal, for example, 'Koala Ward' exists on the 'Tree Tops' level.
Importantly, the wayfinding solution was subjected to rigorous testing prior to building occupation. The resulting wayfinding system makes a significant contribution to placing the RCH at the forefront of international healthcare design.
Photography: Fraser Marsden