Royal Adelaide Hospital

Site Supervision & Investigation, Structural Design, Technical Services
The Royal Adelaide Hospital is Adelaide’s largest hospital. With 800 beds, the RAH provides tertiary health care services for South Australia and provides secondary care clinical services to residents of Adelaide’s city centre and inner suburbs.

To be completed in 2017, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (nRAH) is currently being built in the Adelaide Park Lands on the north side of North Terrace. The hospital grounds will encompass 10 hectares within central Adelaide and upon completion, is set to cost approximately A$2.1 billion.

The nRAH will be Australia’s most technologically advanced hospital, with a fleet of automated robotic vehicles to help move supplies, meals and equipment around the hospital, and a tailor made patient electronic medical record (EMR). Other technology features including patient weighing beds, wireless technology and equipment tracking capability, and intelligent information systems such as bedside entertainment and meal ordering for patients. For hospital staff, amenities will be supplemented by a commercial precinct including a crèche, mini-mart, restaurant, cafes and gymnasium.

The hospital has been designed with an ambitious 50% target reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to equivalent hospitals. A co-generation system will utilise waste heat from energy generators to provide the primary source of heating to the building’s domestic hot water system. Orientation of the buildings is optimised to minimise solar thermal loads, with extensive daylight penetration to reduce artificial lighting requirements. Rainwater and stormwater harvesting will be used to offset potable water requirements, along with extensive use of water sensitive landscaping and a water efficient thermal plant.


Dr Nicholas Mills worked as a senior engineer with KBR at their Adelaide Office.  KBR were part of the design team for the hospital project together with Wallbridge and Gibert Engineers to deliver the project for SA Health – Government of South Australia.

Dr Mills was part of the structural checking team on the project verifying the structural design of the reinforced concrete elements such as the RC structural floor slab corbel supports, core wall design, slab design, precast walling and RC column.

The project consisted of a 6 level multistory frame over a significant length.  The hospital was broken down in to blocks with each block able to withstand post disaster earthquake spectral loading.  If the design was unsatisfactory the structure would have imploded due to pounding of columns, shearing of core walls due to the significant lateral forces introduced by the earthquake loading.


Extensive computer modelling was adopted to assess and verify the structural component.  The RC floors were banded beams with post-tension stranding to reduce cracking and deflection on the structural elements.  The RC floor generally spanned between the RC Beams.

The structural corbels on the project were developed and verified to accommodate the large earthquake structural drifting during a post disaster type earthquake in accordance with AS1170.4.

The computer models were checked (Ram Concept etc. by Bentley Systems), discussion held with the design engineers to ensure that the design achieved code compliance and appropriate structural detailing.


Dr Mills enabled the final construction to proceed with the verification of computer models.  Some of the models were required to be reassessed to accommodate structural comments.  Design methods were discussed in accordance with structural finding.  Designs were verified to achieve fully structural compliance in accordance with the Australian Standards and other relevant regulatory requirements.