Prevention is always better than cure. But prevention requires research, especially in the health sector. The recent inauguration of the Susan Wakil Health Building represents a milestone in the University of Sydney’s ambitious plan to strengthen interprofessional learning and multidisciplinary research.
The building is a state-of-the-art facility in the field of health and medical education and research. Made possible by a $35 million gift from the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation, the building will bring together many of the Australian university’s health and medical disciplines under the one roof at its Camperdown/Darlington campus.
“The University of Sydney and NSW Health have a long and strong history of working together to deliver world-class health services,” said New South Wales Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard. “The Susan Wakil Health Building will play another important role in this partnership, crafting a future health workforce focused on collaboration and innovation in healthcare.”
This large project, spread over eight floors and occupying over 231 thousand square feet (21,500 m2), took advantage of some of the most recent technological and design innovations. Medical, nursing, and allied health students have studied together in the building since March 2021.
“Historically, students have learnt within their disciplines,” said Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor Medicine and Health. “But in recent years, the University of Sydney has championed interprofessional learning opportunities, which allow students to better understand the full range of health professions they will work with during their career. Training so many students together in a state-of-the-art environment has the potential to transform the future healthcare workforce.”
The project was the work of Billard Leece Partnership and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with landscaping by Acadia Landscape Architecture. This is a place for innovation, learning, and socialization, where it will be possible to study and work at the same time.
Located at the intersection of two waterways of historical significance to the Gadigal people, the traditional owners of the land now called Sydney, the Susan Wakil Health Building was designed as an extension of the landscape, embodying the university’s Wingara Mura design principles. For this reason, Arcadia Landscape Architecture designed Gadigal Ground as an interpretation of the healing cycle of the human body, stimulating the mind, body, and soul to reflect the Gadigal people’s approach to healing through engaging all the human senses. The design celebrates the site’s origins as a meeting point, generating a network of pedestrian pathways from all corners of the campus to the Upper Wakil Garden.
Some of the state-of-the-art facilities in the new Susan Wakil Health Building include:
- A range of teaching simulation spaces, including six hospital wards housing fifty beds with computerized mannequins able to simulate medical events such as seizures and heart attacks
- A rehabilitation center and hospital ward where students interact with actors in simulated case studies
- Two apartments that simulate typical homes
- A biomechanics lab with motion capture camera technology for guided physical exercise
- A thermal ergonomics lab, equipped with a purpose-built climate chamber that allows environmental parameters to be controlled for research and teaching relating to heat and health
- Medical imaging suites, including five X-ray machines, a CT scanner, and an ultrasound machine for specialized teaching
- Sophisticated audiovisual facilities in all teaching spaces, allowing remote recording, viewing, and evaluation of clinical practice to support learning
Status: Completed 2020
Client: University of Sydney
Type: Education Health Building
Cost: $140 M
Photographer: Brett Boardman
Design Team Lead: Billard Leece Partnership and Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Landscape Architect: Arcadia
Builder: Umow Lai
Structural and Civil Engineer: Bonacci Group
Town Planning Consultants: Urbis General
Traffic Consultants: GTA Traffic
Building Surveyors: Phillip Chun
Contractor: Laing O’Rourke