RAH Site, Adelaide, Australia


The Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) is a significant and much-loved site, located at the east end of the North Terrace cultural boulevard. It’s a place that many South Australians have a strong emotional connection with – the Kaurna community, the medical profession, patients and visitors to the hospital as well as the adjacent university communities, Park Land users and the East End business community.

When the new hospital opens in 2016, the Royal Adelaide Hospital site will become vacant. This presents a unique opportunity to transform the site and to ensure its successful ongoing use. It is an opportunity to create a new role for this high profile site that respects and builds upon its significant cultural history and location. It’s about putting people and design at the beginning of a process, instead of at the end, and creating the future heritage of the RAH site. The site’s significance is reflected in the seven key objectives that guide this exploration.

These are:
— The site’s social significance
— Sustainable design principles
— A holistic approach to connecting the site to the city and the universities
— Extending public space into the Park Lands
— Respect for the cultural and built heritage while promoting innovative new uses
— Economic viability for the East End.

It takes many minds to imagine and shape great places. Open Ideas, the RAH site engagement process, has provided a platform for discourse, debate, creative thought and inspiration. It has explored many possibilities for the site and captured a broad range of the best ideas. The RAH Site process, led by the Office for Design and Architecture SA (ODASA) was launched on Launched from a temporary shop front in the East End by the Minister for Planning, Hon John Rau MP, the RAH Open Ideas process occurred over a six-month period, culminating in the announcement of the winners on 10 December, 2013.

The process, titled ‘Open Ideas’ included a three-tiered engagement process that aimed to:
— Seek community values and ideas for the site’s future
— Gather and research stakeholder interests and expert knowledge of the site’s potential
— Invite designers to participate in a design competition to explore and test possibilities.

Integral to the Government’s vision for the Greater Riverbank Precinct, the engagement process explored how the RAH site can support a new precinct that connects with, and is complimentary to the adjacent Universities, the North Terrace cultural precinct, the Botanic Gardens and the Park Lands. It also explored how to maintain a population on the site that will continue to underpin the economic activity of the East End and City.

Significant public engagement saw over 25,000 website visits, participation in events and exhibitions and more than 4,300 votes in the People’s Choice Award for the finalists.

The process has been an opportunity to engage the community in the planning, design and development process, connecting their values and ambition for the site with those that negotiate, regulate and develop it. The value has been in growing the capacity to debate and discuss the future of South Australia.

The design competition received 126 entries from 48 countries. An independent expert jury short-listed six finalists to proceed to Stage 2 and further develop their design concept. The shortlisted teams were asked to consider and reflect the public values and stakeholder submissions in their proposals. The jury then awarded the First Prize to SLASH with Phillips Pilkington Architects along with a People’s Choice Award and Student Awards.

As the process has come to a close, Renewal SA is now responsible for the further planning and development of the site, including investigations such as contamination. The outcomes of this process are being consolidated into a Strategic Framework for the site. A Spatial Master Plan will then fully integrate the land use planning with the physical environment and will guide how the site will be used and designed. Following this, an Implementation Strategy will then be prepared to stage and deliver the project.

You can stay informed of the progress through Renewal SA’s website here.