St Leonards Health Organisation Relocation

Adjacent to the Royal North Shore Hospital, the St Leonards Health Organisation Relocation (SHOR) at 1 Reserve Road, is occupied by the NSW Ministry of Health staff and other NSW health agencies. The area was once inhabited by the Cammeraygal people of the Guringai clan, who were known for their strong connections to the land, and their use of key landscape elements such as water, fire and vegetation as part of the healing process.

Designed by BVN, 1 Reserve Road is situated within a nexus of public activation, located south of the Royal North Shore Hospital campus, east of Gore Hill Park and west of St Leonards Train station. Arcadia has designed the public domain to increase amenity and useable open space, while enhancing pedestrian connection, celebrating human interaction and embracing the Indigenous heritage and character of the site.

Connection to Cammeraygal country forms the cornerstone of the design with an innovative design approach that responds to the traditional Indigenous history with an overlay of contemporary First Nations culture woven through the materiality, the seating strategy, planting, and the public art in the space. The public domain of 1 Reserve Road subtly communicates the narrative of the site, reflecting the importance of yarning and congregating in Indigenous culture.

A series of spaces can be used as meeting rooms, lunch nooks or places of respite for the public. These include the timber deck area fronting the building, the higher tier sandstone with Corian-clad seating, and raw sandstone nooks around the larger turf space, giving an abundance of seating options with a large quantity of pedestrian movement and interaction. Corian was used in an innovative way on the sandstone seating, with the design team working on the Corian detail with Indigenous artist Nicole Monks. The detail has been shaped to reflect the shoreline of the nearby Sydney Harbour, with text artwork that is the local Indigenous language translation of what would usually occur at this place on the foreshore.

The public art in the space, a collaboration with artist Nicole Monks, seeks to acknowledge and maintain the heritage of the past while implementing contemporary ideas and usable public art. The artwork includes the shade canopy, message stick sculpture, Corian laser cutting design, sandstone meeting circle design and text on the underside of the building canopy.

An Indigenous planting strategy recognises the Blue Gum High Forest as the original plant community on the land as well as acknowledging the larger plant communities that flank the site. The Blue Gum High Forest is part of the distinctive landscape of the Sydney region, not found anywhere else in Australia and restoration provides a living link to Ancient Australia. 

Completed in 2020, the SHOR public domain has become a popular lunchtime location for nearby workers from the Hospital and St Leonards CBD, who appreciate the access to seating with solar and shade amenity. During the morning and afternoon peak hours, hundreds of commuters pass through the new accessible pedestrian link which now provides a direct connection from the existing train station pedestrian bridge with 1 Reserve Road and the health, education and commercial precincts beyond. 

Landscape Architecture: Arcadia Landscape Architecture

Architecture: BVN

Project location: 1 Reserve Road, St Leonards, Australia

Design year: 2018

Year Built: 2020

Photographer: Paul McMillan

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