Diamond standard: From concept to grand design

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)


North Terrace


South Australia 5000


The new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is the most significant development in health and medical research for South Australia in the 21st Century.


Derived from its unique site geometry and the need to create a forecourt entry adjacent to the new hospital, the diamond shape plan grows from the ground plane to become a “follie” in the park. The built form arrangement of the SAHMRI acknowledges its sense of place within the green belt of the Adelaide parklands and the lifting of the building allows the parklands to extend below and create a notion of a “Building in the Parkland”. The lifting also acts to liberate the ground plane and create a more open public plaza to encourage public interaction and exchange by staff, visitors and the general public. A plaza landscaped strategy of medicinal gardens aims to provide an education tool as an interpretive journey to further create interest and encourage public interaction. The medicinal planting scheme includes structural trees (foreground, flowering backdrop and evergreen backdrop) as well as an understorey of shrubs, groundcovers and grasses planted in three thematic planting zones i.e. Mediterranean, native and sub-tropical.


The sculpture qualities of SAHMRI’s form aim to attract interest inspire and promote the buildings function. The transparent façade showcases the two atria inside the building. The west atrium expresses the entry and bridge links between the laboratories while the east atrium expresses the active workplace environment inside. The building form is further expressed by its unique triangulated diagrid façade inspired by the skin of a pine cone. The form and its articulated skin adapt and respond to its environment, becoming a living organism by the design of the sun shades responding to their location and orientation to provide the most efficient protection from the sun and heat.


The developed triangulated façade and sunshade design uses parametric modelling tools to integrate environmental, programmatic, and formal requirements to generate a shading system that changes accordingly. This allows it to deal with sunlight, heat load, glare, and wind deflection, while maintaining enhanced views and daylight to create a healthy internal environment. It also allows the outside to view the internal workings of the building to help promote the importance of the buildings activity. The triangulated diagrid also deals with the organic plan and section of the building form allowing it to maintain its sculptural quality by having one harmonious skin which works aesthetically as well as environmentally.



South Australian Government

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute


Project team:

Architects — Woods Bagot

Laboratory Specialists — RFD

Building Services Engineers — Norman, Disney & Young

Managing Contractor — John Hindmarsh Pty. Ltd.

Cost Manager Rider — Levett Bucknall

Civil/Structural/Façade/Engineers — Aurecon




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