Case Study: Prince of Wales Hospital

Case Study: Prince of Wales Hospital

We’re excited to announce a collaboration with the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney—bringing shade, a multipurpose therapeutic space, and better care for people with spinal injuries by reinvigorating a rooftop garden.

A project with purpose.

The Prince of Wales Hospital is a major public teaching hospital located in Sydney's eastern suburb of Randwick. The hospital provides a full range of health services and leading quality of care for all patients.

The project, organised by the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation, involved the redevelopment of a rooftop garden space in the hospital's specialist Spinal Injury Unit. Although the project originally began as a painting refresh, it soon became clear that the entire outdoor space required an update.

The original ward garden was created in 2006, and while it was once a vibrant space for patients and families to enjoy some fresh air, ten years had taken its toll.

The rooftop garden, as it appeared prior to the refurbishment project.

The Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation approached GALE Pacific to get involved and support improved patient care and enhance the general environment of the ward by providing some shade. 

Shade plays a critical role in the rooftop garden space because many spinal patients often have nerve damage associated with their injury or presentation. As a result, their ability to perceive sensations can be affected, and they are often unable to detect their skin burning due to UV exposure while in the sun.

GALE Pacific proudly supplied shade fabric for the installation of a commercial shade structure.

With a new shade structure, lush green plants, and a therapeutic wall mural, the rooftop garden project aimed to refresh and reinvigorate a space in the Spinal Injury Unit. The garden creates an appealing environment for patients and visitors alike, and ultimately contributes to a better care experience all around.

Commercial Heavy 430.

Shade sails were more than an essential addition for the comfort of patients; they were also a key ingredient in the aesthetics of the courtyard and perfectly complement the colourful surrounds of the garden.

Prior to the redevelopment, the garden featured retractable awnings that were no longer fit for purpose after ten years of exposure to the elements.

There was an opportunity to improve the space, and by extension, improve the quality and level of care for the patients staying in the ward. GALE Pacific contributed by utilising our new generation Commercial Heavy 430 architectural shade fabric.

Slowly bringing vibrancy to the rooftop, but we still required a solution to protect against exposure to the sun.

Commercial Heavy was best suited for this project due to its biaxial strength and load bearing capacity. These key production qualities ensure the shade structure will retain its design and functional shape for many years to come.

Due to the constant wind gusting through the courtyard, the fabric needed to be robust and dependable: capable of withstanding the impact of both time and the elements, without the need for constant tensioning or ongoing maintenance.

The fabric used in this application has been engineered to meet a minimum shade factor of 90%, and has been independently tested up to 94.3%. The fabric is designed to provide long-lasting quality in extreme Australian weather conditions, backed by a full 15-year warranty protecting against UV degradation.

Early analysis of the space allowed us to design and deliver a solution optimised for performance in all conditions, around-the-clock. This example showcases a study in sunlight angles to determine effective shade coverage throughout the day.

Long term performance and resistance to the elements were essential requirements for the rooftop space, with an abundance of direct sunlight bathing the garden in UV rays for long periods of time throughout the year.

Additionally, the courtyard is situated between several buildings, creating a wind corridor. As a result, the project called for shade sails that are capable of withstanding strong winds.

Through a comprehensive testing and research process, we were able to simulate the conditions of the rooftop installation and ensure Commercial Heavy could perform at an optimum level, for the long term. You can see a snapshot of how the team developed early insights into wind tension and fill stress levels below.

Our solution provides quality protection from the sun, while being able to combat the relentless winds that whip through the courtyard. Due to the stable nature of the fabric, Commercial Heavy has very little stretch, even under strong weather conditions.

Kim Millar, from the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation, offers her thoughts too:

"This area is very exposed in summer, and without shade, patients were unable to enjoy fresh air outside the ward. Many of the ward rooms look out to the courtyard, and the shade sails were fitted and designed in such a way as to allow shade and light to filter through for those indoors [as well as those already enjoying the courtyard]."

Project engineering.

Our collaborators, Pattons, engineered and installed this project, and organised the fabrication utilising Commercial Heavy through ABC Products. George Formosa, from ABC Products, found the fabric simple to use during both processes:

"Commercial Heavy was easy to fabricate and was not harsh on the machines--but more importantly, it wasn't hard on the hands of the fabricators. "

The fabric has good lay-flat characteristics, making it simple for the plotter cutter to cut the material and creating a better fabrication process overall.

"While other fabrics are classified as functional, they can be harsh on the hands and machinery. The softness of the fabric makes it easy to fabricate, as well as providing a better experience while using the plotter cutter."

According to George, Commercial Heavy is a "robust, fabricator friendly material", that is fit for the job. He also emphasizes the importance of colour consistency, stating that "as a rule of thumb, GALE fabrics have very little colour variation". This is especially relevant for large projects, where multiple rolls are utilised throughout various product installations around a location, and colour matching is vital.

The colour chosen for the rooftop garden was steel grey to tie into the colour scheme selected for the rooftop area, including the large and striking mural.

Beyond colour consistency, Commercial Heavy offers key additional properties that contributed to the successful project outcome, but that also made the installation process seamless.

Dan Wright from Pattons elaborates:

"The material was really great to work with. There was surprisingly little crease memory for a monofilament shade cloth, which helps with installation and packaging and the material tensioned out very well."

Project results.

Looking back on completion of the project, our team is proud to report we have achieved more than just a shade solution.

Patients in the Spinal Injury Unit have an average stay of 120 days, with some staying for up to a year. The unit hosts long term patients, as well as people who return to the ward on a regular basis for ongoing rehabilitation.

In reflecting on the project, the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation stated:

"Previously in summer, the garden was unusable at times in the heat, The shade sails are really important In enabling patients to use this place during the day. Patients and their families are finding this space a joy to be in while spending so much time in hospital."

Given the frequency of visits required for specialised treatment, the physical space of the courtyard plays a key role in the quality of care each person receives. With the revitalised atmosphere, the courtyard now assists in making a positive contribution to patients' wellbeing.

The space is now used by patients and staff for meetings as well as leisure, with many choosing to undertake planning and case conferences in the rooftop garden.

Through revitalizing the garden, we've created and contributed to a significantly improved space in the ward; one we are confident both patients and their families can enjoy for many years to come.

Kim says:

"What was once a rarely used, rundown and dreary space is now vibrant, lively, and full-of-purpose--it has been a fantastic outcome for the patients and hospital".

Dan Wright, from Pattons, also had this to say:

"It is very important for us that our structures will last the test of time. We only use products that we're comfortable will marry with our warranty guidelines. We engineer all of our structures to the Australian building code and it is important that the fabric we use works well with our steel frame designs. I was very happy with the result: we achieved the project's scope and requirements [and delivered] a long-lasting, reliable shade structure."

GALE Pacific has a full range of shade fabrics to suit a variety of projects across various industries, with varying installation requirements, and in innovative applications. If you would like more Information about the applications of Commercial Heavy, visit our product page or get in touch to learn more.