Russell Yelland

Mt Barker Maternity Unit

Completed: 2013
Client: Mt Barker and District Health Service

As the largest town in the Adelaide Hills, Mt Barker is also one of the fastest growing areas in the state. To cater for this rural population boom, the Mt Barker District Soldiers Memorial Hospital expanded its maternity unit in 2014, unveiling three new birthing suites and upgraded accommodation for eight beds.

What we did: Hospital alteration and addition
Maternity ward upgrade

Despite having plenty of health facilities experience, Mt Barker was our first maternity unit project. Well-versed at designing for live environments, our primary focus was to create a comfortable and supportive experience for families and staff – both through the facility’s design and in the management of the project.

To minimise interruption to maternity services we broke the 10-month construction period into three stages, tackling the addition first. The new build comprises consulting rooms, a larger shared space for antenatal classes and staff meetings, a reception area and waiting room. Perpendicular to the existing ward, we designed a new family lounge and kitchen facility that would act as a bridge between the accommodation and consulting wings, which generated the opportunity for an enclosed, internal courtyard. These simple, green spaces are important to visitors – particularly carers with small children – where fresh air and a run on the grass can offer respite in proximity to the nursing wards.


The second stage involved the accommodation corridor upgrade, and we delayed breaking through via the new kitchen until after the addition was complete, minimising disturbance to families utilising the existing ward facilities.

In a design move that would surprise most passersby, the new birthing suites are positioned directly behind the new curved, brick hospital façade. Privacy – both acoustic and visual – is nevertheless maintained via triple glazed windows. What this affords the suites is excellent natural light access, and timber slats on the façade provide an additional level of screeningPrivacy film on the lower half of the windows prevents onlooking in any case, and adjustable internal blinds and dimmable switches allow midwives and birthing mothers further control of lighting levelsOther features in the suites include ample floor area and baths as option for birthing.

Photography credits:R&Y