Hospital design

The Victorian Heart Hospital, located on Monash University’s Clayton Campus in the centre of the Monash Technology Precinct, is a project of collaborative vision and effort. As the 2023 winner of the World Architecture Festival award for completed buildings in the health category, it showcases new thinking about healthcare design. 

First of its kind 

Led by the Victorian Health Building Authority, with project partners Monash Health and Monash University, this internationally significant facility is Australia’s first dedicated heart hospital and the only of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.  

The Victorian Heart Hospital (VHH) has a clear agenda – the overlap of learning, teaching and research with clinical activities to foster a remarkable degree of collaboration.  

A building for people 

Hospital design

All primary routes within the building extend to the facade to assist with orientation and improve amenity.

The design of VHH emphasises enhancing the human experience by connecting the mind and body with multi-sensory and enriching environments. Guided by biophilic design principles and a salutogenic approach, the architecture, interiors, facility planning and clinical planning consider the built environment’s impact on the health and wellness of all users. Those include patients, clinicians, staff, researchers, students, carers and visitors. 

At the centre of VHH is an open and heavily landscaped courtyard garden. The courtyard allows natural light to permeate throughout the surrounding spaces, forming a gravitational heart that clarifies circulation patterns, democratises departments and articulates public spaces. The circular form punctuates the otherwise rectilinear planning, activating and connecting the community of VHH together for rest, respite or a daily walk. 


The hospital building is organised in three vertical layers, based on public to private uses. A rational network of passageways connects the departments and outdoor spaces. 

Between the gravitational heart at the building’s centre and the extremities of its circulation, are the clinical spaces. It is designed to be calming, with services and structures carefully integrated for the best patient experience. The circulation avoids closed ends, and all primary routes extend to the facade to assist orientation and improve amenity. 

The connection and reinforcement of the landscape are key parts of the experience at the hospital. The building footprint is rotated in plan to fit within the tree lines, and the approach to new landscapes is layered and nuanced. The preservation of existing trees is prioritised and underpinned by an arboricultural assessment of the precinct. 


Hospital design

The connection and reinforcement of the landscape is a key part of the experience at the hospital.


Located adjacent to the Monash University sports fields, VHH is conceived as a hospital in a park, characterised by an inspired material palette. A range of forms, colours and finishes imbue the exterior with a robust, civic appearance that strives to be welcoming and reassuring.  

Weathered steel and terracotta tiles blend into the adjacent parkland landscape. Folded vertically, the steel finds a natural rhythm and a pattern that draws together a series of spaces into a coherent whole. External materials are expected to settle into the context by developing a natural patina over time, due to weathering. 

Similarly, the interiors focus on creating environments conducive to well-being by using a familiar material palette. Timber is used principally in the public spaces to amplify these connections. Variation is employed with pattern, colour and finish to offer stimulation. This reflects organic forms in nature known to enhance small moments in the day. 

Passive design elements 

Sustainable initiatives consider a building that will endure, provide comfort and accommodate future expansion with a reduced impact. As a facility that never closes, the implementation of resilient and energy-efficient systems minimises the environmental impact of VHH. 

Environmentally sustainable design (ESD) strategies focussed on a high-performance building envelope, energy-efficient engineering systems and occupant well-being. The facade is a culmination of high-performance ESD initiatives. Amongst others, these include increased insulation and improved indoor thermal and acoustic comfort for the benefit of the VHH community. The facade also works to reduce cooling and heating loads, ongoing HVAC energy consumption and utility costs. 


Project details: 

Project name: Victorian Heart Hospital.  

Architect: Conrad Gargett (now merged with Architectus) + Wardle.  

Lead architects names: Rebecca Moore, design director health; Meaghan Dwyer, project director; Stefan Mee, design director; Paul Emmett, health facility planning lead; Yee Jien, project leader; Laura Molloy, clinical interior design lead.  

Location: Melbourne, Victoria. 

Country: Australia.  

Image credits: Peter Bennetts.  


Acknowledgement and thanks go to for the information in this article. For more information, visit and 

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