Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Named One of the Best New Buildings in the World

(October 9, 2014) - The HDR Rice Daubney-designed Chris O'Brien Lifehouse was named the "Best Health" project last week at the seventh annual World Architecture festival in Singapore. The festival is the largest global architecture program in the world dedicated to celebrating architectural excellence from across the globe; firms from more than 50 countries competed in this year's program.

Lifehouse is the first integrated cancer center in Australia—one that takes an innovative approach to cancer care that focuses on the holistic patient experience. The design of the building re-examines the notion of transparency within a clinical setting. The building is conceptually enclosing and protective without being introverted, featuring a series of external perforated screens, patterned fritted glass, and a layered façade. The building mass is articulated by a series of vertical glazed slots that define building volumes and provide glimpses of the activity within the building. 

Inside, an 11-story central atrium accommodates glazed public lifts and provides users with visual connections to all floors as you move through the building. Internal design focuses on a neutral palette of natural materials and  features high-quality finishes and patterned surfaces based on the braille text for the word "Lifehouse." Reflecting on the design, Michael Boyer, Chief Clinical Officer at Lifehouse, said, "From a building design perspective, the aspect I'm most proud about is the look and feel of it—it doesn't look like a hospital."  

In addition to recognition from the World Architecture Festival, Lifehouse has been awarded top honors from Healthcare Design, Modern Healthcare and World Health Design; it has also received an honorable mention in Contract's "Healthcare Environment Awards." Out of these four magazines, the project has graced the cover of three. 

Remarking on Lifehouse's design, James Bicak, a judge for the Modern Healthcare Design Awards, noted that the project "reflected a fine urban response to its hospital campus location and was full of small things done to great effect. What I saw was a degree of skill in the execution that seemed to really understand the patient experience for what that facility was designed for." Judge Nicholas Tejeda noted that "Just about every element is different from anything you'll find in any other cancer center—even the name itself."

Lifehouse gets its name from the late Chris O'Brien, a leading Sydney-based head and neck oncologist. His goals for cancer center were simple: to make things easier for people with cancer so they do not feel alone navigating the confusing elements of dealing with their illness; to turn new discoveries into better cancer care; and of course, most importantly, to pave a way toward a future without cancer