Healthy design

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Let’s be honest, healthcare facilities are not conventionally considered particularly desirable places to be. Being unwell is bad enough in itself, and being forced to spend several hours in a chemical-scented waiting room, trying to shut out the glare of overly bright strip lighting above, is certainly nobody’s idea of a good time. And if you actually have to stay in hospital for any extended period of time – even just an overnight – you’re especially unlikely to be in any hurry to return. Bleakly utilitarian surroundings, lack of privacy, a complete absence of evidence of any attention to the aesthetic elements of design… these are characteristics that the majority of health establishments do tend to share. Due to lack of funding, most health facilities are laid out and outfitted without any consideration for appearances. This is fair enough, and is much as you would probably expect. You don’t go to the doctor to be visually stimulated. You go to the doctor because you want to get better. However, there are many private clinics that prove that hospitals can in fact be pleasant environments to be in, when cash is available for good planning. Even if you never have cause to go to one of these, their existence shows that there is no public or commercial space, however negative its associations, that can’t be rendered more appealing through design.

​A welcoming place to wait

With its ostentatiously framed artwork, comfy padded chairs and quirky collection of cacti, this waiting room feels anything but clinical. It’s a relaxed, calming space that might be more likely to be found in the reception area of a hotel. There are no sickly greens, outdated 70s browns or any of the other hallmarks of the typical hospital here; nor is the design too chilly and contemporary.

​Country air in the city

 Clinics by Arquitectos Madrid 2.0
Arquitectos Madrid 2.0

Reforma de local en Madrid

Arquitectos Madrid 2.0

This lovely, rustic-style therapy centre – in fact located in Madrid – is so pretty it’s almost hard to believe that visiting it could in any way be good for you. It seems too much like a treat.

Where you come to get back in the game

It’s safe to say that the doctor who works in this room is a bit of a sport fanatic.  But quite apart from the impressive array of football shirts adorning the wall, there are many other interesting little features in this room. The stencilled text on the left-hand wall; the monochrome sculptures beneath it; the bonsai tree; the striking architectural photos along the wall – all these pieces of evidence point to the fact that the person whose office this is has no fear of bringing their personality to work.

​No need to be blue

 Clinics by herzog,kassel+partner
herzog,kassel+partner

Wartezimmer mit Kinderwolke

herzog,kassel+partner

The sheer novelty value of this blue and white room is sure to keep little patients distracted, at least for a little while, as they wait to be seen. The bright lights, the strong colour contrasts and the soft, undefined form of the chairs all contribute to making the space seem like part of a trippy fantasy sequence from a children’s TV show.

​A home away from home

It might be basic, but this room’s appeal derives from the fact of its simplicity. Offering a host of subtle touches of home  - wood floors, gentle lighting, soothing orchids – having the chance to recover in this peaceful place would certainly be a less jarring experience than finding yourself in a conventional shared hospital ward.

But what if you get seasick?

Many people find the ocean soothing, so this marine mural is probably a very sensible choice for a waiting room where many people won’t be feeling at their most relaxed.

Have you ever been to a really well-designed clinic? Where was it and what did you like about it?
modern Houses by Casas inHAUS

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