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NMIT has winning prescription for new hospital

22 Mar 2013

Alison Lewis, a Diploma of Interior Design student at NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE), has been awarded $1000 for her interior design of the $3m Ballan Hospital redevelopment.

The design competition was a collaboration between NMIT and Ballan District Health and Care (BDH&C), the community owned not-for-profit organisation based in Ballan, 80 km northwest of Melbourne. The organisation is replacing the town's original 1966 bush hospital, and approached NMIT to get some fresh interior design perspectives for the new buildings.

It was a challenge Nancy Bush, NMIT's Interior Design Program Coordinator, was keen to incorporate into the interior design program as an assessable task. “A project like this brings study to life. Students needed to take the client's requirements verbally as well as address the design brief - like the real world. They also needed to work to client's time constraints, liaise with the architect and present to a panel. It was a challenging project, but invaluable.”

The brief was to design the interiors of the hospital's new reception, administration and emergency areas, as well as an X-ray room and 10 acute rooms, including a palliative care room. Students created concept boards showing three dimensional representations of each room using ArchiCAD, as well as displays of their proposed paint, carpet, veneer and vinyl finishes. Each student also provided design documentation identifying the finishes for each room. Six students were then selected to go to Ballan and present their designs to BDH&C's CEO, Director of Nursing and staff, as well as the redevelopment's Design Architect, AIan Morton.

At the announcement of the winner at NMIT's Preston Campus, Wendy Grayland, BDH&C's Health Services Manager, acknowledged it had been hard to pick the winning design. “In the end we selected Alison's design for the way she honoured the hospital's bush nursing and solider memorial history. The hospital's history is important to the local people and we liked how she cleverly used a slouch hat motif in the colour and shape of the foyer's carpet. Her colour use of fresh green, warm orange and earthy browns also reflects the local landscape, as well as making the rooms really inviting. Her whole presentation demonstrated the tremendous amount of research she has done.”

For her part, Alison, from Eltham North, said she enjoyed the project. “I really enjoyed working with BDH&C. I loved putting together the materials and finishes, as well as deciphering the architectural specifications.” Her inspiration for her design was the history and landscape of Ballan. “I wanted to not only incorporate the client's requirements but to use the local surrounds and organic shapes of nature in the design, as well as ensuring that the history of the original hospital was not forgotten. The award's a huge confidence boost, but being able to see my design brought to life will be reward in itself.”

Wendy says BDH&C considers the collaboration a success. “We're looking forward to implementing Alison's design, and happy that the project reinforces the hospital's culture of educating the next generation.”

Nancy from NMIT also agrees the project was a success. “The students learnt a great deal - it was a real life situation. Hopefully we will get more of these kind of projects in the future.”

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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.