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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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.




The lab is an environment for collaboration, prototyping and experimentation. The nature of our studio space reflects this, through its use of lightweight, mobile furniture and infrastructure. As the scale of projects undertaken by the lab expands, alongside our growing team, we've adapted the studio to create a unique, private workspace that allows for focused collaboration and 'war room' style workshops. 


Situated towards the rear of the lab, Backspace is a light-filled mini studio constructed entirely of existing structures and materials. White coreflute panels sit within tall timber frames, combined with a lowered wave-like fabric ceiling to create a soft, elegant space that encourages fresh thinking and a greater sense of focus. 

Backspace is an example of prototyping within work environments to create low cost but highly effective spaces for collaboration and creativity. 

If only we could do something about the sound… 


Pharmacy Dispenser

We are always interested in how easily accessible 3D printing technology can be used to solve problems creatively and quickly at the hospital. Some past example of our work in the space can be found here.

Recently a design problem arose in relation to the overly large quantities of prescription medication in wards. A considerable portion of these large quantities often expire. The technician believed that smaller containers with lower quantities may help to prevent this issue.


Doing this manually is far too time consuming for staff, and potentially inaccurate. Medication machines that automated this process are available, but they were deemed as too expensive. A smaller low-cost machine was purchased that automated the measuring process, but still required staff to individually handle each container.

Although the machine could output smaller quantities, the metal chute at the bottom of the device was too wide for smaller containers.  The DHW lab developed a customised 3D printed funnel to improve the functionality of the machine and allow the dispenser to work effectively.


Accessibility Reference Group


Early this week, the Lab hosted its first Accessibility reference group workshop. It was an opportunity for our designers and project managers to present some of the projects currently underway at Auckland Hospital and receive feedback on how our work can be considerate of all user types.

Specifically, the wayfinding guideline, reception desk concept and new welcome space were discussed at the workshop, resulting in some invaluable insight that will feedback into our design process. The group will reconvene in a months time to check in with how the projects are progressing.