RMH: the first LEED-rated building of its kind in Australia

Welcome to the impressive new home-away-from-home facility for seriously ill children, now sleeping 220 people in 47 rooms across two wings and four floors.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett opened the new $27 million Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Nedlands on December 4, 2015.

Situated on the QEII site alongside the State Government’s new Perth Children’s Hospital, the House is almost three times the capacity of the old Subiaco House, and now accommodates up to 47 families per night.

A capital fundraising campaign launched in 2013 to raise funds to build a larger House to support and accommodate regional families while their family member received treatment saw the WA State Government put forward $13 million to the project.

Further contributions poured in from Lotterywest ($8 million), Royalties for Regions ($5 million), BHP Biliton ($5 million), Fortescue Metals Group ($3 million), and Mission Partner McDonald’s WA licensees and its corporate community ($1 million).

Focusing on the social aspect of creating a community hub that promotes interaction between families, between patients and between patients and their families was imperative in the design process.

“Studies have shown the positive effect of interaction with nature and vegetation on the recovery periods of patients, and also the emotional welfare of their families who are inevitably affected,” says project architect Gerry Kho, of Gerry Kho Architects. “The aim was to ultimately provide opportunities for people in similar situations to share, to relate and to heal together as part of a support system.”

With this in mind, a careful selection of finishes, textures and materials was made to remind those in the House of nature, including timber, stone and a natural palette of materials. Furthermore, the building was designed with the intent of being able to view the surrounding trees, sky and landscape from every occupiable space.

Specially selected tiles from Japan built in to all bedrooms feature odour, carbon dioxide absorbing and hypoallergenic properties. This was an important factor, as the building was designed to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rated, which is global recognition and certification for environmental and sustainable buildings.

“We initially aimed for a Green Star rating, but the building type didn’t fit into any of the categories,’ says Gerry. “So we made the decision to be rated internationally instead through LEED, and it will be the first LEED-rated building of its kind in Australia.”

Interestingly, basement walls were constructed using the latest ICW injected system that enabled the forming of the basement walls without excavation first and without the erection of retaining systems, which would be challenging as the site is tight with existing buildings shouldering the west and east boundaries. Access control for the basement parking gate is operated through the use of mobile phones, which is not commonly found in Perth.

Facilities within the new Home include two fully self-contained isolation units with direct external access, a full commercial kitchen, gym facilities (donated by Anytime Fitness in collaboration with Life Fitness and Gymcare), wall-mounted foldaway bunk beds, a rooftop garden, a teen den and a recreation room.

Ronald McDonald House Perth is an independent charity that primarily relies on donations from the Western Australian community.

 

Gerry Kho Architects
gkarchitects.com.au

Ronald McDonald House Perth
www.rmhc.org.au/our-programs/houses/perth