Karratha Health Campus From Baron Sandpit To Restorative Oasis
Landscape Middle East|December 2019
Resourceful planting and irrigation are helping this new civic landscape thrive in the harsh climate of Australia’s Pilbara region.
Hassell
The A$207m Karratha Health Campus – Western Australia’s largest ever regional health infrastructure investment – is transforming health services for people living and working in the country’s remote north-west. Hassell designed the public health facility, including the campus’ expansive landscape that enhances the hospital environment, provides respite for patients and their families and extends Karratha’s green links through to the city centre.

The landscape was designed alongside hospital staff, the City of Karratha, and the traditional ‘Ngarluma’ landowners to create a civic place where the whole community feels comfortable and protected, says Natalie Busch, Principal at Hassell.

But designing a sustainable landscape for Karratha was particularly challenging, says Busch; as the town experiences, all extremes in weather and conditions. From high temperatures, humidity and at times torrential rains, to bonedry soil, and even cyclones.

“With these impacts in mind, we designed a hospital campus that’s ‘bulletproof’ and self-sufficient in terms of essential services and maintenance. A landscape that can not only survive fluctuating conditions but – through its strategic design – actually helps protect this vital community asset during extreme weather events.”

“One year since completion, and having endured category five Cyclone Veronica, the landscape continues to thrive,” Busch said. Innovating to sustain plant life in a water-scarce environment. In the semi-arid Pilbara, any civic landscape lacking sufficient planting and shade is destined to fail, but water for irrigation isn’t readily available. Karratha’s groundwater is brackish, the rainfall’s unreliable – essentially the site pre-development was a baron sandpit.

To solve this problem, Hassell developed an innovative irrigation system with LD Total and Wood & Grieve Engineers that captures condensate from the hospital’s air conditioning units and backwash from its reverse osmosis system and stores it in underground tanks for reuse. It collects up to 30kL of water each day during the hottest months – the volume of a backyard swimming pool.

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