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Groundwater investigation using geophysics

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne (RCH) has evolved the traditional paradigm of health facility wayfinding by utilising an evidence based design approach that places the RCH at the forefront of international healthcare design.

To develop the wayfinding and signage Büro North took an evidence-based approach collecting research in the form of staff and patient surveys, interviews and observation techniques to understand adult versus child wayfinding ability and to identify issues relating specifically to health environments such as patrons with English as a second language and the use of confusing and intimidating clinical terminology.

During the research stage, children were considered as a key user group, and care was taken to include them in stakeholder consultation. This process was used to define a child friendly approach to level identification, and departmental naming, supported by research into the navigational behaviour of children.

The wayfinding solution focuses on the integration of landmarks at key navigational decision points, the primary objective being to create journeys that are easily describable, in a simple sentence, using basic English. Data was analysed to determine which routes and destinations would most frequently be used by children, this provided a template to define the location of key child friendly landmarks and pathways, as well as the appropriate use of fixed directional signage.

Based on its evidence based approach to wayfinding and design, Büro North collaborated with local illustrator Jane Reiseger on the development of illustrations for the wayfinding signage. Jane was selected from a field of international illustrators for her uniquely whimsical hand drawn style, and her willingness to work collaboratively with the project team. As patients move through different floors in the hospital their journey takes them from ‘underground’ at the lower ground levels through to ‘sky’ on the top floor. Specific areas within each level are described in relation to an appropriate animal, for example, ‘Koala Ward’ exists on the ‘Tree Tops’ level.

Büro North developed the illustrations to create highly distinctive wayfinding graphics and over 5,000 signs, wall panels and essential landmarks for the large hospital site and introduced a playful and distinctive personality to the interior of the new Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Importantly, the wayfinding solution was subjected to rigorous testing prior to building occupation. Initial results indicate that the new wayfinding design solution provides a 45% reduction in average journey times when compared to the system used in the old hospital. More telling still, was that the average number of users needing to ask for assistance to find their way was reduced from 78% in the old facility to under 10% in the new RCH.

The building is a credit to the Children’s Health partnership (CHP) consortium which comprises Lend Lease (LL), Spotless Group and Architects Billard Leece with Bates Smart (BLBS). In partnership with the RCH, DHS, LL, BLBS and many other consultants, Büro North have contributed to creating an environment that is uniquely designed for children, spaces that are engaging, stimulating and take healing beyond the bedroom.

Groundwater investigation using geophysics – Imagine what a difference it makes to a groundwater investigation if substrate visualisation is practical and affordable. Drilling alone gives information at a single location and is expensive. Groundwater down the hole can mix leading to lack of information about vertical changes.

Should a geophysical technique be used to extend upon and extrapolate drill hole information in three dimensions across a site, then a thorough understanding of groundwater distribution and salinity can be gathered. It is often possible to map depth to rock layers that confine that groundwater.

Groundwater Imaging Pty. Ltd. tow devices for imaging electrical conductivity of a whole range of focal depths of the substrate. Electrical conductivity, or its inverse, resistivity, responds to changes in substrate permeability and saturation as well as groundwater salinity. Distribution of saline pollutants as well as the groundwater itself can be mapped.

Now commonplace are GPS assisted soil conductivity mapping electromagnetic devices. Groundwater Imaging Pty. Ltd. extend on such technology, also adapting airborne electromagnetic technology, to image to depths of many tens of metres into the substrate at the same time as they image changes right at the ground surface. A survey platform, controlled by the Australia made TerraTEM system, is towed through the terrain. We are continually designing and modifying our towing platforms which have now conducted thousands of kilometres of crosscountry trials. We aim to make it possible to survey anywhere that can be driven.

Data is collected wherever the system is driven and then displayed in 3D ‘curtain diagrams’ projected up above the ground a fixed height (say 100m) above Google Earth imagery. The resulting files, also hosting graphics of state database bore details, are compact and can be received via email and viewed on any computer running Google Earth. This form of presentation is good for revealing vertical changes in the groundwater hosting substrate. Horizontal mapping is conducted by gridding depth slices of that same data and these too can be delivered for semi-transparent viewing in Google Earth.

Connection of surface water and groundwater investigation is of special interest. For this purpose Groundwater Imaging Pty. Ltd. supply a compact device for use on water which they call Herbi3 (Hydro Electrical Resistivity & Bathymetry Instrument v3). In shallow water it is towed by walkers while in deep water it is towed behind a boat. A submerged streamer of electrodes senses multiple depths into the substrate with extra focus on the top decimetres where silt layers and clay lining need to be investigated.

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