The first images of what a new major hospital for women and children in Adelaide may look like have been unveiled.

The South Australian Government has released preliminary artistic impressions which demonstrate the possible appearance of the new $1.95 billion Women’s and Children’s Hospital (nWCH).

Set to open in 2025/26, the new hospital will be co-located with the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) within the Adelaide Biomed City and will be connected to the RAH by two air bridges.

It will replace the existing hospital, which is located slightly more than a kilometre to the north-east of the RAH and around two kilometres to the north of the Adelaide CBD.

Features of the new hospital include:

  • 500 treatment spaces (nearly 60 more than the current hospital).
  • 170 outpatient consultation rooms.
  • 14 Women’s Assessment Service treatment spaces.
  • The two aforementioned air bridges which will link the new hospital to the RAH and will provide physical and clinical connectivity, giving women access to adult clinical support including the Intensive Care Unit, as well as access to the helipad at RAH.
  • A further link on level 1 to provide back-of-house connectivity.
  • A new bridge over the rail line, which will enable children and families to cross from the nWCH to the Park Landsand and the hospital’s new multi-level carpark.
  • More than 1,200 car parks. This is almost double what is available at the current site whilst the disability and pram parking will be closer to the hospital.
  • Orientation toward Adelaide’s’ Park Lands to provide wellness benefits associated with its location within the health science and Riverbank Precints.
  • Better transition of care to adult services for adolescents, enhanced mental health care facilities, and greater education, training and research capabilities with its location within the Adelaide Biomed City.

Set to be powered entirely by South Australia’s electrical grid (which is heavily based around renewables), the new hospital will also become Australia’s first all-electric hospital.

This, the government says, will save 2,178 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year (the equivalent of taking 700 vehicles off the road), and will avoid the need to rely on gas to power heating, hot water and kitchen functions.

The new hospital is being planned amid several challenges with the existing hospital – which as mentioned above is not connected to either the new RAH or the Adelaide Biomed City.

These include:

  • A lack of direct access to an adult Intensive Care Unit and adult clinical services.
  • Ageing infrastructure requires continual and costly repairs.
  • Suboptimal workflows between areas and departments.
  • Delays in retrievals caused by the lack of a helipad.

By contrast, the new hospital’s co-location with the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) within the Adelaide Biomed City will deliver several advantages.

These include:

  • Direct access for women to adult support clinical services including an intensive care unit and surgical support.
  • Access to the RAH’s helipad, reducing risk associated with transferring maternity, paediatric and neonatal emergencies.
  • Smoother transition for young people with long-term conditions from paediatric to adult services and better person and family centred care facilities and services that enhance the experience for patients and families, including outdoor areas and family resource rooms.
  • Helping to ensure that the area with the nWCH, the RAH the South Australian Health and Medical Research Unit and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Unit 2 is transformed into a thriving medical and research hub.

The future of the existing site will be determined by a process which will be managed by Renewal SA.

Design and delivery of the first stage is being delivered by a collaboration which is being led by Woods Bagot and involves Bates Smart, Jacobs and BDP.

Woods Bagot director Thomas Masullo says the colocation and connection with RAH and location within the Adelaide Biomed City will provide direct access to the RAH’s adult Intensive Care Unit and other clinical services as well as the use of the helipad for medical retrieval of critically unwell patients, including children and babies.

This, Woods Bagot associate principal Edwina Bennett said, will maximise the potential of both facilities.

“It creates a physical connection for the sharing of resources and provides a seamless transition of care for young people with long-term conditions moving from paediatric to adult services and reduces the risk of transferring maternity, paediatric and neonatal emergencies via the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s helipad,” Bennett said.

Meanwhile, Matthew Holmes, global solutions director of health infrastructure at Jacobs, says the hospital’s orientation with Adelaide’s Park Lands will enable it to harness the wellness benefits of the unique location within the health sciences and Riverbank precincts.

“For children, women and their families visiting and spending time at the hospital this offers both a place to play as well as supporting recovery and recuperation,” Holmes said, adding that the design team are mindful about maximising the facility’s connection to Country to providing a comfortable and unique health care setting.

The team’s design response also acknowledges the different roles hospitals play in a single day – workplaces, sanctuaries, assembly points, accidental playgrounds, landmarks – all performed simultaneously.

With this in mind, the new hospital is being designed as a mixed-used typology which will deliver an integrated health campus where elements are connected and focused on care.

In releasing the images, the government stresses that these are likely to evolve as the design progresses.

In addition, the final estimate of project costs remains subject to a further review by Infrastructure South Australia.

Nevertheless, the Government says its current estimate of $1.95 billion has been supported by four separate reviews – two of which were independent and two of which were conducted by the Department for Infrastructure and Transport.

As of yet, no firm date for commencement of construction has been set.

Nevertheless, the government hopes to have the hospital open by 2025/26.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the project is the culmination of a year’s worth of dedicated community engagement, including more than 1,000 hours of consultation with 700 clinicians, hospital staff and consumers.

“The WCH has been delivering exceptional care to millions of South Australians for more than 140 years and now it will have the facilities to match,” Marshall said.

“The new WCH will be more than just a building. I want to invite all South Australians to join us as we embark on this journey to build the WCH community a new home next to the RAH.”