Workshopping Facility Refurbishments

This project focussed on improving a waiting area at the Cancer and Blood service at Auckland City Hospital. The role of the DHW Lab was to facilitate design workshops with clinical stakeholders and Facilities, with a view to develop refurbishment options to improve the experience for patients and families. Building on existing patient research (carried out by the DHW Lab and Performance Improvement) at the Auckland DHB, patients and families had the opportunity to vote and provide feedback on design concepts.


The focus of the first workshop was to establish a shared understanding of the current waiting room experience, in order to distil a set of guiding design principles for the refurbishment. Together with the patient feedback already gathered, we compiled a set of ‘how might we’ statements. These provocations acted as a ‘design brief’ for translating users needs into concepts.


Using scale models and representative furniture blocks, the second workshop began to bring form to the design principles established in first workshop. Participants experimented with furniture layouts using a scale model—discussing how different configurations would improve the room’s function and the patient experience. 

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In a subsequent activity, the DHW Lab team sourced a range of inspiration images around the themes of: privacy, nature, furniture, and activities/interactions. We asked each other, 'which of these examples might be suitable references for this environment?' Using the models as a basis, the two groups annotated their concepts with visuals and notes. At the conclusion of the workshop, two layouts were presented to the public to provide feedback on.

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The final workshop moved beyond function and layout to explore how the space should look and feel, based on this session the DHW Lab put together a final set of design recommendations to be taken forward by Facilities.  

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Talking Minds: Featuring on Design Assembly


Talking Minds is a website we have co-designed with young New Zealanders who have experienced psychosis and their whānau. Its aim is to help inform young people in New Zealand and around the world about psychosis so that they can recognise the signs early on and be empowered to live their lives to the fullest. The website also provides information for families and friends who want to learn more about psychosis and how best to support young people who experience it.

Recently, this project was featured on Design Assembly. Read the full article here.



Airbridge Safety

This recently installed design focusses on improving the safety of nurses and doctors using the airbridge that connects the helipad to the hospital. Large environmental graphics highlight safety, warning, and danger zones whilst clear iconography is used to identify health and safety equipment. The corridor is treated as a 'shadow wall', with key items such as stretchers allocated to specific areas on the bridge to maintain an ordered and safe working area.

Healing Environments Exhibition

The DHW Lab set up its first exhibition outside the lab, in the hospital waiting area on Level 5. Focusing on the privacy booth developed by the lab, we set up a display and feedback table to ask patients, staff and visitors to take a moment to tell us what they thought about, not only the privacy booth, but what a Healing Environment could be for them in the hospital.

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The exhibition was an experiment in both presenting the lab’s work to a broader audience and as a way to gather feedback from the members of the public.

After lots of effort and excitement putting the display together, it was great to see the level of interest generated from a range of patients, staff and visitors. Responses were thoughtful and interesting, and very positive on the whole from those we talked to about the privacy booth and the Lab’s aspirational Level 8 Whanau space design.

The feedback we received through the exhibition has helped the Lab and the team working on the privacy booth validate its purpose and need.

Holding an exhibition in a public space in the hospital proved a great way to put one of the Lab’s ideas out there and get the public’s response. It was also a novel learning experience for the Lab in continuing to create opportunities for others in the hospital to be involved with the projects we do.

Check out the animation below for the full story of the exhibition.


Anaesthetic Tray

In Auckland Hospital's cardiac theatres consumables such as analyser cartridges and syringes are often delivered in corrugated cardboard boxes. Cardboard, however, is not allowed in theatres due to infection control. The DHW Lab was approached to design a storage solution made of a safer, alternative material as an interim solution. Ideally this material needed to be both robust and easily sanitised.

Following a number of 3D-printed mock-ups, the Lab came up with a simple laser-cut design made from a durable, easy to clean acrylic plastic. Each tray unit can store up to 10 cartridges and stack on top of each other in order to conserve storage space.


Medical Illustrations

Illustrator Emma Scheltema has had some great success this year with implemented designs both at Auckland Hospital and abroad. She has worked with explaining 'Cast Care' and 'Bone Remodelling' to children and their parents at Starship Orthopaedics Outpatients. 


Emma's illustrations were also featured in the European Medical Journal, describing different types of heart surgeries called 'Fontan Procedures.' Take a look at some example of her work: