STARS treatment

How RLB helped to deliver a leading light in healthcare

  • Projects


The first priority of healthcare facilities is to function efficiently. But Queensland’s new Surgical, Treatment and Rehabilitation Service, or STARS, not only dazzles with its efficient design. STARS has also captured awards and applause for an innovative approach that prioritises the health and wellbeing of patients and the people who work within its walls.

One of the largest tertiary specialist rehabilitation centres of its kind in the southern hemisphere, STARS is a strategic partnership between Metro North Hospital and Health Service and the University of Queensland that has transformed rehabilitation and surgical services. A transformative approach to healthcare demands a transformative approach to building design – and the STARS project team undoubtedly delivered.

At a glance

  • Client
    Australian Unity
  • Services
    Commercial Success
  • sector
  • Location
    Brisbane, Australia

RLB puts forward a stellar team

Australian Unity delivered STARS under an innovative Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with the Queensland Government’s Metro North Hospital and Health Service, which has signed a 20-year lease. When Australian Unity was assembling its project team, RLB was the obvious choice. RLB drew on a team of diverse skill sets – from building services specialists to construction phase experts to experienced cost planners – to support the project. “We’ve worked on most large infrastructure projects in Queensland and our track record speaks for itself,” says RLB Director Paul Megram.

The STARS facility is functional, but the quality of the indoor environment and the beautiful landscaping combine to create a phenomenal experience for patients and the people who work there.
Paul Megram, Director, RLB

RLB’s role on the project was extensive, starting with cost estimating and ending with independent certification. RLB worked closely with the building owner, tenant and the contractors to assess monthly progress claims, certify practical completion and undertake defect inspections. As Paul Megram says: “At the end of the day, the buck stopped with us.”

STARS provides a room with a view

Green design features – like access to natural light, fresh air and views of nature – can reduce hospital stays by 8.5%, accelerate patient recovery by 15% and reduce the need for pain medication by 22%, according to the World Green Building Council’s Business Case for Green Building.

But the idea that connection to nature has beneficial effects on health and healing is not new. In 1860, Florence Nightingale argued that patients should be able to “see out of window from their beds, to see sky and sunlight”. STARS certainly provides a room with a view. The design team, led by HASSELL, created visual connections from the wards and respite spaces to the abundant greenery, which covers 70% of the site, and beyond.

  • $
  • 32,323
    net lettable area
  • 182
    new hospital beds

Heroing human-centred design

The STARS site cascades down a 20-metre slope, with the healthcare facility clustered around a collection of historic buildings that echo the Spanish Mission style and embody the best elements of the quintessential Queenslander: wide verandahs, arched façades and verdant outlooks. The new facility respects its heritage, maximises the benefits of greenery and creates a health precinct that heroes human-centred design.

Awards and applause

STARS was recognised as the best development in Queensland in 2022, garnering the state’s highest development accolade, the Property Council of Australia’s Queensland Development of the Year. As Paul Megram says: “The quality of the building is a testament to a visionary partnership between owner and tenant and a high-quality project team. RLB was proud to play our role delivering a first-class facility for the people of Brisbane.”