The city of Nanaimo is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) serves the city of 85,000, as well as the surrounding Nanaimo Regional District. With a rapidly growing population, technological advances in medical treatment and an increasing emphasis on patient centred care, the old facility reached the end of its useful life. The Vancouver Island Health Authority decided to rehabilitate the existing building and add a new 3,080-square-metre expansion.
The idea that wood can play an important part in contributing to a healing environment is gaining acceptance among healthcare architects and practitioners. At the NGRH Emergency Department, the beneficial attributes of wood are introduced as soon as one approaches the building; the entrance is marked by a prominent glulam and heavy timber canopy that reaches out to greet arriving visitors. The canopy is supported by diagonal Douglas fir glulam struts that spring from asymmetrical concrete bases. The struts support horizontal Douglas fir glulam beams, and a secondary structure of solid Douglas fir purlins and decking. Exterior seating benches in the area of the entrance are also made from reclaimed Douglas fir.
“A goal of the project was to create an environment that would be great for patients and staff, and a very important aspect of that was connection with nature. This was achieved with the courtyards bringing daylight in, as well as being able to get outside and experience the healing and calming effects of the outdoors. Use of wood both on the interior and exterior were part of our healing solution, and also supporting the BC Wood First values”.
Bruce Raber, Vice President and Healthcare Sector Lead for Canada