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Bendigo Hospital

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Saved 14.4 million gallons of potable water, equivalent to approximately 22 Olympic-sized swimming pools, from opening in 2018 through 2021 by using harvested rainwater for irrigation and some building systems. This represents an average savings of over $19,000 per year, totalling $84,000 USD from 2018 to 2021.
  • Projected to sequester an estimated 365,580 lbs of atmospheric carbon over the next 20 years through the retention of 79 existing mature trees. This is equivalent to 410,762 miles driven in an average passenger car.


  • Provides a range of activity spaces within the therapeutic garden, with 7 activity types noted over 6 observation periods across 2 cold weeks in July. The spaces also encourage social interaction, with 40 groups of 2 or more people observed over the same period.
  • Supported a 67% increase in the number of Indigenous patients presenting to hospital per year from 955 in 2013/14 to 1,599 in 2018/19. This indicates increased comfort with seeking medical care, which is supported by features like the Aboriginal services courtyard with a smoking pit used in "Baby Welcome to Country" ceremonies.
  • Supported an increase in the number of Indigenous Services Liaison workers from 0.8 to 3 Full-Time Equivalent positions, indicating higher demand for the specific Indigenous health services they provide.


  • Created 4.5 Full-Time Equivalent employee jobs to fulfil the maintenance requirements of the hospital landscape.

At a Glance

  • Designer


  • Project Type

    Healthcare facility

  • Former Land Use


  • Location

    100 Barnard Street
    Bendigo, Victoria 3550, Australia
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  • Climate Zone

    Humid subtropical

  • Size

    32 acres

  • Budget

    $15 million AUD/appx. $10.3 million USD

  • Completion Date


Bendigo Hospital is a new healthcare facility for the City of Bendigo in Victoria, Australia that functions as a regional healthcare centre for the Mallee region, containing 20% of Victoria’s population. The new facility is a retrofit and an expansion of an existing hospital site that had a conventional building and landscape, and the new facility consists of two precincts, the Barnard and Lucan precincts. The first key driver for the landscape design is connection: fostering historical, cultural, and ecological links to the site through community cultural engagement, preservation of heritage features, and the use of Indigenous plants. A co-designed Aboriginal Services Courtyard focuses on making connections with Indigenous patients and visitors. The second driver for the site is kindness: promoting experiential qualities of the landscape with a focus on how these features can be used to promote healing and support for patients, visitors, and hospital staff alike through a range of healing spaces including 46 green roofs, a series of courtyards and balconies, and other private and publicly accessible areas. Together “kindness and connection” provide a framework for the integration of healthcare, water management, biodiversity, and social and cultural spaces in this hospital landscape. 


  • Develop a walkable precinct that engages with the broader city to provide connectivity, increase accessibility, and encourage increased visitation by patients and visitors.
  • Utilise the healing qualities of landscape, biophilic principles, and evidence-based design to provide relief and support for patients.
  • Encourage Indigenous community involvement and engagement by promoting cultural practice and education. Fostering a relationship between the healthcare facility and Indigenous groups is a primary goal, which allows Indigenous people to feel more comfortable in presenting to the hospital as patients.
  • Manage considerable topographic transition across the site.
  • Consider significant safety needs for people with limited mobility and patients in the mental health unit.
  • Incorporate biodiverse plantings and maintain existing mature trees where possible.
  • Harvest and reuse rainwater through Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles to reduce dependence on potable water.
  • Provide a world-class landscape amenity to support the hospital in attracting experienced medical practitioners to the region and retaining existing staff.
  • A primary north/south axis with a strong hierarchy of connection typologies across the site provides continuity and connection to the surrounding city and creates a walkable precinct. A 3-metre (almost 10-ft) primary pathway and tree-lined entryway avenue provides a clear and uninterrupted journey from Barnard Street to the hospital entrance. These strong connections to the hospital facilitate integration into the broader urban context.
  • The hospital landscape features a network of 46 green roofs and courtyards of diverse sizes and shapes.
  • 19 of the courtyard spaces are specifically designated as mental health courtyards for psych unit patients. These provide secured amenity spaces and views of soft plantings along with ‘non-institutional’ materials with fittings and fixtures selected to minimise risk of self-harm. The courtyards range in size from 15 to 160 square metres and are either accessible or non-accessible (meant to be viewed through windows).
  • The hospital’s green roofs and on-structure courtyards are both intensive and extensive. They are planted with a range of vegetation types which correspond to their microclimate. Plants were located to reduce glare and provide shade.
  • A 1,900-square-metre (20,451-sf) therapeutic garden with raised planters creates a series of over 15 semi-private outdoor rooms with enough seating for 130 people. The plant selection emphasises colour, texture, and scent and was selected to be low allergy. Species include silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus), hardy aloe (Aloe striatula), wax jasmine (Jasminum simplicifolium), and giant allium (Allium giganteum).
  • 72 existing trees, many of them large and mature, were retained in the Barnard Precinct of the site thanks to a close working relationship with a consulting arborist. The entryway avenue tree planting consists of 36 native evergreen trees (lemon-scented gum, Corymbia citriodora, and spotted gum, Corymbia maculata) at Mercy Street North/South and 34 exotic deciduous trees (Chinese pistache, Pistacia chinensis, and European hornbeam, Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’) at Mercy Street East/West.
  • The Aboriginal services courtyard features a fire pit and water feature, and an adjacent publicly accessible Aboriginal services garden is home to a relocated scarred tree. A scarred tree is a tree in which Aboriginal people have caused scars by removing bark for cultural purposes. Both spaces were designed in collaboration with the Dja Dja Warrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, building stronger relationships between First Nations people and the hospital and increasing comfort with presenting at the hospital for care. 
  • There is a significant 5-metre (16.4-ft)  grade change across the site. This is navigated by a universally accessible ramp with integrated steps and seating. The result turns the dramatic level change into an opportunity, creating a space which is accessible to people of all abilities.
  • Harvested rainwater from roofs and some courtyard surfaces is captured in a 300,000-litre (792512-gallon) tank and is used to irrigate the landscape and for some building uses. 
  • An 200-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel array made up of 770 panels generates clean energy for hospital use.

Evidence-based design (EBD) principles guided a holistic design approach throughout the project. EBD guidelines call for providing a sense of control, social support, physical movement, access to nature and positive distractions, and minimising ambiguity and intrusive stimuli. One example of an EBD design element is the way garden beds were designed in the courtyards on raised podiums. In typical landscapes, on-structure garden beds are found in raised planters. At Bendigo, garden beds start at ground level to create a sense of being outside, allowing users to feel more immersed and relaxed in the landscape.

The network of 46 green roofs and courtyards of diverse sizes and shapes were designed using biophilic principles. Biophilic principles include the mimicry of environmental features through the use of organic forms, natural patterns and processes, light and space, place-based relationships, and evolved human-nature relationships. One example is the utilisation of forest-style planting which borrows from the nearby Macedon Ranges. This includes soft, organically shaped planting edges and a mid-level open canopy of soft tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica).

The specification of most plants (excluding trees) at a minimum 150-mm (6-in) pot size cost an estimated $221,700 AUD ($153,170 USD), as compared to an estimated $95,000 AUD ($65,640 USD) if more common 50-mm (2-in) tubestock planting had been specified. The specification of larger plants resulted in less loss and less waste, with an estimated savings of $7,900 AUD ($5,470 USD) in replacement planting costs. While the estimated cost savings are significantly less than the difference in cost, the decision to use the more mature plant stock provided amenity value more quickly which, particularly in the therapeutic garden, had significant value.   

  • A maintenance plan was not initially created by the landscape architects due to a contractual constraint; but one was clearly needed. The wide variety of planting typologies was underestimated by the contracted maintenance team, which meant that the initial maintenance fell below the necessary standard. This was eventually rectified through a renegotiation of the maintenance contract, and after this adjustment the landscape has been maintained to a generally much higher standard.
  • The external glazing on the building is more reflective than anticipated, which has impacted some of the plants. Initial shadow modelling was undertaken but light modelling to factor in reflectivity was not. Modelling of reflectivity is quite difficult and rarely undertaken by architects in the context of how it may affect the landscape. This has resulted in ferns struggling at certain times of the year because of higher levels of sun exposure through additional glare. This has been partially mitigated by increased fixed shade elements, as well as irrigation and misting regimes in particular areas.
  • Particular attention was given to design decisions relating to materials, planting, and fixtures within high-dependency mental health courtyards. These courtyards are designed specifically for acute patients who require high levels of monitoring as their behaviour can be erratic and volatile. In these high-dependency units it was harder to establish the plantings, and more secure fixings for furniture were required.
  • Bendigo Hospital has a horticultural therapy program where hospital patients perform simple horticultural tasks such as planting plants with the guidance of a horticultural therapist. Previous research has shown that it improves physical and mental well-being. At Bendigo anecdotally, horticultural therapy was more successful with the older age cohorts than anticipated, with participation rates exceeding staff expectations.
  • Due to successful collaboration and integration of the building, planning, architecture, and design, the revitalized precinct and hospital has been greatly appreciated by the community, staff, patients and visitors. The local council facilitates tours through the project, which demonstrates its success as an exemplary collaborative project.

Bluestone Paving and Edging: Bamstone (Australian sawn bluestone - pedestrian and vehicle grade)
Drainage Cell: Elmich VersiCell 30mm
Stainless Steel Heel Guard Tree Grate: Heelguard Grating
Steel Garden Edge: Formboss cor-ten steel garden edging (various sizes)
Litter Bins and Recycling Bins: Urban Design Group
Drinking Fountain: Street Furniture Australia
Flag Poles: Abel Flag
Planter Box: Quatro Design
Removable Bollard and Bollard: Street and Park Furniture
Security Bollard: LEDA Security
Tactile Indicator: TGSI
Slot Drain: ACO Brickslot

Project Team

Landscape Architect: Oculus with Paul Thompson
Client: State Government of Victoria
Aboriginal Country: Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Country
Community: Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
Architects: Silver Thomas Hanley
Architect: Bates Smart
PPE consortium: Exemplar Heath
Design and Construction: Lendlease
Lighting and Security: Norman Disney and Young

Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect’s role on this project was urban design and landscape architecture including the master planning and design and documentation of all external areas and nearly 50 rooftops, balconies, and courtyards. They were extensively involved in the Office of the Victorian Government’s Victorian Design Review Panels, client presentations, and user group engagement.


Water conservation, Carbon sequestration & avoidance, Recreational & social value, Access & equity, Job creation, Trees, Rainwater harvesting, Onsite energy generation, Native plants, Green roof, Social equity, Mental wellness, Health care

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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