Donors at heart of design for new Blood Centre in Christchurch

Let’s face it – needles make plenty of us nervous. Which is why the new and inviting Blood Centre in Christchurch is designed to appease those nerves. We take a look inside.

Earlier this month, the brand new southern headquarters of the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) opened its doors. The 3,850m2 facility is set to become the lifeblood of the South Island in its new Addington site, alongside Auckland’s Epsom Blood Centre.

While the blood centre’s former Riccarton site was purely operationally driven, the new centre keeps the donor experience and safety of New Zealand’s blood supply at the heart of its design. Auckland interior design firm Creative Spaces designed the interiors, keeping the comfort of donors in mind.

The centre is decked out with all of the essentials, including 19 comfortable donor couches, a tea and coffee area, and bright colours that accentuate the warm and inviting environment.

Wilkie + Bruce Architects, based in Christchurch, designed the structure of the building around better workflow for staff and donors, and more facilities to store equipment and blood products; the building houses nine refrigerated rooms, ranging in temperatures from -40°C to 4°C.

CEO of New Zealand Blood Service, Fiona Ritsma, says the new facility is very important to the long term future of NZBS. She says that the layout and size of the new Christchurch facility will enable the blood service to keep up with all of its "manufacturing, technological and regulatory expectations".

“We look forward to welcoming our wonderful, loyal blood donors from all over Canterbury to our donor centre, as well as new donors who want to roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life,” says Ritsma.

In case of a major catastrophe to hit the North Island centre – located in Auckland’s Epsom – Christchurch will be able to meet the needs of all of New Zealand, as the centre encompasses not only a blood-donating centre but also manufacturing and testing laboratories and specialised storage areas.

Designed as an Importance Level 3 building (1.3 times the strength of the current Building Code), it can withstand strong seismic activity; a diesel generator and three rainwater-harvesting tanks have been installed to keep the centre active in cases of an emergency.

According to the latest statistics from the NZBS, on average Christchurch needs 292 new donors every month to keep up with the constant demand for blood and blood products, and yet only 2.3% of those eligible to donate in Christchurch currently do. NZBS is hoping the new building will attract more donors to help those in need.