Pushing boundaries

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Privately owned, but located on District Health Board land, the Kathleen Kilgour Centre Radiotherapy Unit in Tauranga is not only providing world-class specialist radiotherapy services to the people of the Bay of Plenty, but is a groundbreaking space in design and construction.

Recognised internationally as a leading-edge health complex, the Kathleen Kilgour Centre Radiotherapy Unit — the Health Category winner of the 2016 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards — is a unique public-private partnership that, according to judges, required “a project team that pushed boundaries and tackled the unknowns”.

Established by urologists Mark Fraundorfer and Peter Gilling, and named after Dr Fraundorfer’s mother who died of cancer at an early age, the centre is the result of a private-public partnership between the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and the Kathleen Kilgour Centre Ltd Partnership.

Previously, the nearest option for radiation cancer treatment was more than 100km away but, now, 500 to 600 patients, both publicly and privately funded, can use the new facility annually.

Breaking the mould of traditional Health Board buildings, the multi-storey facility, built around the time and space constraints of a busy regional hospital, houses three linear accelerator bunkers, where specialist state-of-the-art equipment is located, recovery rooms, consulting offices, meeting rooms, administration offices, and technical support spaces.

Praised as an easy to navigate, warm, welcoming space with stunning design by Wingate+Farquhar, judges were also impressed by the team’s environmentally-sustainable design approach to optimise the patient experience and enhance healthcare delivery.

A distinctive “saw tooth” roofline, implemented to improve the efficiency of the rooftop solar array, is teamed with careful selection of low VOC materials and finishes for improved indoor air quality, a greenwall, and rainwater harvesting.

The judging panel said “green walls” and sensitive interior spaces encapsulate a unique number of sustainable features and elements throughout the building.

“This is a unique health-focused facility of which the total team can feel justly proud,” they said.

Also unique is the piled raft design created to spread the weight of the bunkers over an increasingly wide footprint and, then together with the “normal” building loads, was progressively transferred into the ground.

The design uses more than 300 timber piles and 1000 cubic metres of stabilised hardfill.

“Such stand-alone buildings don’t just happen,” the judging panel said.

“They require a client that has vision, passion and drive, a consultant team that pushes the boundaries of design and interior ambiance, and a construction team prepared to tackle things not achieved before.”