Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre


City of Nedlands

Place Number



Verdun St Nedlands

Location Details

Other Name(s)

Perth Chest Hospital
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1958

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Municipal Inventory Adopted 15 Apr 1999
Survey of 20th Ctry Architecture Completed 01 Mar 1988
Register of the National Estate Indicative Place

Child Places

  • 15841 Anstey House
  • 17642 A Block & R Block, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
  • 19841 G Block, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

Statement of Significance

The Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre (QEII MC) has strong historical, social and scientific heritage significance. Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital which is an important part of the medical Centre, has had a huge impact on medical services for Western Australian people since its inception as the Perth Chest Hospital four decades ago. The objective to become a vital link in the education of medical practitioners while operating as a sound working hospital, has led to the many University buildings as well as support services within the Centre. These include pathology and research laboratories. Though much of the built environment at QEII is regarded as functional rather than aesthetic, the history of the development of the Centre is important and adds significantly to the heritage value of the Centre.

Physical Description

SITE: The site of the Chest Hospital, when initially constructed, was bounded on the north by Verdun Street and Thomas Street to the east. The main entrance was off Verdun Street which intersected with Thomas Street. Thomas Street provided the main link from Subiaco to Nedlands along the western edge of King's Park, but led into the commercial and residential section of Hampden Road, Hollywood. The original tram tracks e:dended along the east side of Thomas Street until the service was closed and replaced with additional bus services to those already carried. These included Metro Bus Co, Beam Bus Co, Parlour Cars and W A Government Transport. Little remains visible today of Thomas Street except a short length of the road which has been converted into a parking area. The mostly undeveloped frontage between the Chest Hospital and Monash A venue remained predominantly bushland. BUILDINGS: The buildings listed below can be divided into several distinct physical groups. It should be noted that where shown, the storey heights are an indication of the above-ground storeys visible from external inspection only. There are extensive basement and sub-basement service areas, ducts, tunnels and the like. Similarly, the plant rooms and associated roof structures are extensive and also have not been included in the storey heights noted in the description. Group 1: • Perth Chest HospitaJ (1958) Thomas Street passed diagonally to the east of the site at the time the first two structures were designed. Owing to its bulk, the Chest Hospital was a prominent building against King's Park bushland to the east. The Chest Hospital is a five storey building laid out in the form of an 'H' with two major wings facing north and south with an interconnecting link. The south face has yellow spandrels in the curtain walling and the north face has light blue panels. The main building has a reinforced concrete frame with salmon brick 'framing'. The metal-framed curtain walling has rendered framing and horizontal cantilevered cement-rendered sun screening. The link is brick faced with round windowed lift towers. This was once a prominent part of the eastern elevation but is now concealed from the streetscape. The roof plant on the north elevation is distinctively roofed with a reinforced concrete slab in the form of an extended sine curve with a filigree infilling. Extensive additions have been completed around the base of the building and to the south. The function of the building has been changed from ward accommodation to other purposes. The original form of the building is still visible and the prominent coloured north and south facades are still clearly evident. The design style of the building is Post-War International, and the condition of the building in 1998 is fair to good. • Nurses Quarters (1959) The second major building on the site is planned on a 'T' shape, again with the top of the 'T' facing north. It is a five storey reinforced concrete structure essentially clad externally with salmon coloured pressed bricks throughout except for the plinth of the ground floor which is faced with blue tessarae up to an extended hood over the ground floor windows. Over each of the upper floor windows, a splayed metal hood projects, each painted randomly from a palette of three colours, red, blue and yellow. The effect has always been banal. The design style of the building is Post-War International. The building is now used for other purposes although the stmcture remains intact ex1emally. The building appears to be in good condition. • State X-Ray Building (1961) This is a single-storey building located at the north western side of the complex. The structure comprises basically of a reinforced concrete floor slab cantilevered in sections, with brick end bays and glazed curtain walling along the north and south faces of the building with blue spandrels. The plan again is 'H' shaped with another wing across the link. The building has metal deck roofing and is no longer dedicated to its original use. The design style of the building is Post-War International and it is in fa ir condition. • Communications (1971) This building is adjacent to the former 1959 Nurses Quarters building. • Freezers/Kitchens (1989) The kitchens are formed from prefabricated coloured aluminium facings to insulated wall panels with an extensive brick structure and service building against the original structure. Group 2: • School of Nursing (1968) • FJ Clarke Lecture Theatre (1969) • Medical Library The buildings in this group are single storey salmon brick structures with a higher building forming the theatre proper, adjoining to the south. The buildings have a prominent brick fascia on brick columns, forming a verandah along the northern perimeter. These were executed in the Late Twentieth Century International style, but retain a domestic scale through the use of brickwork. Group 3: • Long Term Block (1969) • Extended Care Block (1971) • State Health Labs (1971) • UWA Blocks (1971) • Main Plant Rooms (1972) • D Block Psychiatry (1973) • B Block Link Building (1975) • F Block Radiotherapy (1975) • E Block (1977) The visual qualities adopted for the design of this third group of buildings of varying heights is characterised by several features including: strong horizontal emphasis of each storey of the buildings, unity provided by the white, or near white materials, the dark voids and the te;~,.iures of the surface finishes of the materials. The roof lines of the various buildings are, in tum, dominated by a plethora of ducts, towers and other components of the mechanical services. All of the buildings in the group are physically linked in plan by 'Watling Street', a north-south access corridor along the western side of the group. Each of the main buildings in the group more or less address the revised road layout (Hospital Avenue) resulting from the re-routing of Thomas Street into Winthrop Avenue from Hampden Road formerly. This group forms the contemporary predominant visual image of the complex each executed in the Late Twentieth Century International design style. Materials include reinforced concrete structure, floor slabs, columns and spandrels with several combinations of surface finishes including exposed aggregate, cement rendered masonry. Infilling materials include white quartz and off white smooth and rough textured cement block masonry, some laid horizontal and others laid vertically in panels. The window and door elements are dark finished commercial grade aluminium sections with tinted glass glazing. The service ducts are a wide range of metal finish. Group 4: • UW A Medical Library (1973) (N) This is a two storey building in white masonry blockwork with metal glazing frames. The Library's blockwork imbues the building with a commercial ambience. • Anstey House (1974) This building comprises a nine storey residential building with its long axis east-west, and with a single storey building extending to the north with a coloured steel strip roof in several forms. The design of the building is sensitively executed in white blockwork with strong horizontal emphasis given to the multi-storey block by the deeply recessed fenestration. Although remotely located from Group 3 buildings, Anstey House is visually related to them in the Late Twentieth Century International design style. • Workshops (1981) The Workshops is a single storey utility building with brick walling to doorhead height with steel roller shutters and matching coloured steel fascia concealing the roof form. • T Block (date not indicated) This building is a single storey structure with brick walling. an iron roof and, probably. a steel frame with steel clad fascia and cantilever on the north. • StJohn's Ambulance (1985) This is a single storey utility building constructed in white finished blockwork with a metal-clad fascia. Group 5: • Lion's Eye Institute A visually disparate building forming the western perimeter of a courtyard around the main entrance to the former Chest Hospital. The building is three storeys high, of red brick on a reinforced concrete structure with Donnybrook stone cladding to the columns flanking the entrance. The windows are fixed with tinted glazing set in bronze finished alloy frames. Patterns are formed in the face brick work by red brick soldier courses and other designs, some set back from the main wall face. The building is too young to designate it into a recognisable design style, but the form and surface decoration is reminiscent of brick buildings commonly depicted in American Brick promotional literature in the 1970s. This is the most recent building on the site (1998).


At the turn of the century the s ite of the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre (QEII MC) was a grazing place for a herd of dairy cattle owned by Edward Browne, the founder of Browne's Dairy. The land was once owned by Sir George Shenton but was purchased by the State Government in 1910. Then, in 1953, the 75 acres2 of the QEII MC was designated for development as a medical centre with a teaching hospital as the core. In a report of the Commissioner for Public Health in 1953 it was stated: As the hospital will not primarily serve a defined area but will also supply the teaching and research facilities for the State, its ultimate size is dictated not so much by population in the area but by the ma..~imum size of a workable hospital Indeed the QEII MC has expanded enormously from its inception when it first opened as the Perth Chest Hospital. The Perth Medical Trust From 1922 the site of the medical centre has been controlled by the University of Western Australia (UW A). under a 999 year lease from the State Government4 . When the Chest Hospital was proposed the 75 acre block was largely undeveloped. It was divided by Thomas Street which had been the route of the tramway built in 1907/8. The tramway went from Subiaco, along Broadway to the Nedlands foreshore. Other development included some houses built by the university on the periphery of the site in Monash Avenue. It is also believed that there was a farmhouse near a lake (now filled in and built over). Wishing to establish a medical centre, the WA Government wanted to revest the land in the Crown. An agreement between UWA and the government maintained some say for the University over the future of the site. Their say was embodied in the Perth Medical Centre Trust which controls and manages the Medical Centre site. It has no part in the operation of the institutions and organisations at QEII MC. Another member of the Trust (now called the QEII Medical Centre Trust) is the Health Department of W A. The functions of the Trust include the control of ingress/egress from the QEII Medical Centre, security, parking, provision of roads, paths, lighting, sewerage and drainage as well as landscape maintenance. The Development of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and University Facilities Opening in 1958, the Perth Chest Hospital (A Block) was to replace the Woorooloo Tuberculosis Sanatorium. The hospital was considered a "beautifully proportioned buiJding of four storeys, light and airy and set in landscaped grounds". Support services of steam and laundering came from the nearby Repatriation Hospital. The original hospital block was quickly followed by a number of support buildings, the Nurses Quarters (R Block, 1959) which are today used by administration and the Workshop (W Block, 1960). In 1963 the Hospital was renamed Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) after the WA Governor of the time. The School of Nursing (Q Block), was built in 1968 which supported the hospital based Nurse training program. The nurses lived in the accommodation constructed in 1959. New living arrangements were available at Anstey House (S Block) on its completion in 1974. Anstey House was named after Olive Anstey, Matron of SCGH for many years. Changes to the Nurses training program in the 1980s (which is no longer hospital based) have led to little need for accommodation on the hospital grounds, though rooms in Anstey House are still available. The last school of Trainee Nurses graduated in 1988. As the Medical Centre developed UWA supplied funds for buildings (L & M Block, 1971) and shared facilities of the FJ Clarke Lecture theatre completed in 1969. Other buildings constructed that are not part of SCGH are: the State X-Ray building (U & F Blocks, 1961), the State Health Laboratories (J & K Block, 1971), the UWA Medical Library (N Block, 1973) and the more recently constructed Lions Eye Institute. Today (1998) there are plans for further redevelopment of the site and a site master plan is being prepared. Under the master plan the vacant bushland on Monash Ave will be preserved and possibly enhanced. The site close to Monash Avenue is designated for housing, the Perth Dental School and Dental Hospital. Of vital importance to the smooth running of the SCGH is the main plant building (H Block) that was commissioned in 1972. Initially the Power Block was built with the intent to supply power for the Hollywood Repatriation Hospital (now Hollywood Private Hospital). However, as both institutions grew they remained independent of one another, each with their own power facilities. A steamline goes underground from the H Block across the whole QEII site to the Hollywood Hospital boundary. Chilled water is also supplied from the power block. The three turbines can generate enough power to supply the whole of QEII with excess if needed in an emergency. The Queen Elizabeth ll Medical Centre and G Block In 1977, to commemorate a Royal visit to WA, Sir Charles Court's Liberal Government renamed the Medical Complex the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre. The name, after 20 years, still creates difficulties as some people do not realise that SCGH is a separate entity within the larger QEII Medical Centre. One of the biggest influences on the growth of SCGH was the opening of G Block in 1982. G Block was initially designed to have 11 floors and increase the capacity of the hospital to approximately 1,400 beds. However politics intervened. Anecdotal evidence suggests that originally SCGH was to replace Royal Perth Hospital owing to the growth of the City Centre, but opposition to losing the original hospital was so strong that plans for G Block had to change. During the construction of G Block, the architects and builders were instructed to reduce the number of beds provided, so 240 were reduced overall. The support facilities such as the operating theatres were kept the same. The new imposing G Block created some change and confusion for administering to the needs of new arrivals. The original entry at the 'back' of the hospital was not used by either patients or visitors who continued to go to the Emergency entrance. People power therefore determined that the main entrance be off Hospital Avenue, next to the Emergency Department. The other entrance has been redesigned as a Chapel. Interesting elements of G Block include a north-south corridor called Watling Street. This wide corridor is named after a Roman road which ran from Scotland to England - designed to carry armies. The corridor was originally designed to accommodate patients in the case of a major disaster. Additional services to support the medical facilities at the hospital include landscaping & gardening, retail outlets. the laundry and catering from the two kitchens. Landscape maintenance is funded by the QEII Medical Centre Trust whose main source of income is parking fees. The retail outlets in the hospital include a bank, pharmacy, coffee shop, hairdresser and florist among others. These outlets pay rent to the hospital - a procedure that is under review. Originally the laundering of hospital linen was performed in the basement. Today all laundry is done externally by a private linen service. Two kitchens (located in A & G Blocks) supply meals for approximately 600 patiems8. Catering has been through an evolutionary process from cook-fresh to cook-freeze to cook-chill, with the aim of meeting healthy requirements and minimising the institutionalised taste. Discussions of the success rate are ongoing. Consternation amongst the residents that live on the borders of the QEII Centre arises periodically. Most concerns are caused by the traffic that is generated by the many visitors and service vehicles to the hospital. Originally this was not a serious issue as much of the property in Verdun Street was owned by the hospital. Housing was supplied to visiting medical and transient staff. However, the houses were sold according to government policy during the early 1990s. Opposite the houses in Kingston Street is Kilgour Park. Central to the park is a lake which is part of the storm water drainage system. This is a compensating basin that has been carefully landscaped. There is said to be some Aboriginal significance to the area which particularly centres on the old lake. Ron Kilgour was honoured by having the park named after him owing to his contribution to the hospital as Medical Superintendent (this title is now Director of Medical Services). Architectural Evolution Originally hospital design, refurbishment and planning at SCGH were determined by influential medical personnel such as specialist doctors and matrons. Some personalities were driving factors in the design of wards and operating theatres. However, today planning has changed and influential people are usually those with a strong business sense. The CEOs no longer necessarily have a medical background. Up until 1982 no specific architects were employed. Plans and drawings carne from the Public Works Department. The project architects for G Block were Morry Fairbrother and G Bateman. After G Block however, work that could not be done in-house has been given to consultant architects. Future Directions With technological changes and new innovative surgical and medical practices, the hospital is a dynamic organisation. Though a modern operating theatre still measures 7rn x 7rn x 3m, the surgical equipment and the procedures performed have changed radically since the Perth Chest Hospital opened. The hospital therefore constantly upgrades its equipment and facilities. Research and Development also plays a significant role in the future directions of the hospital. Today (1998) there are plans for a new Research facility and studies are being done to locate the optimum feasible position within the QEIJ Medical Centre. All dates for development taken from Brief History of QEII Medical Centre supplied by Hames Sharley.

Other Reference Numbers

Ref Number Description
H3 LGA Place No

Other Keywords

General Management Category: C
Specific Features:
• N facade of Perth Chest Hospital, blue curtain walling - Category B
This contains elements of the International Style and should be preserved.

• The remnants of the tram track - Category B
The tram track was extremely significant, and any remnants should be maintained. An interpretive
plaque or sign could be erected, outlining the significance.

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
9107 Fifty & counting: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital's first half century. Book 2008
9249 Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital: Interpretation plan A Block & R Block. Heritage Study {Other} 2009

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Other Use HEALTH Other
Present Use HEALTH Hospital
Original Use HEALTH Hospital

Architectural Styles

Post-War Perth Regional
Post-War International

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall ASBESTOS Fibrous Cement, corrugated

Historic Themes

General Specific
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Community services & utilities

Creation Date

10 Jun 1999

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

20 Sep 2022


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.