- Waiting Areas -
The original building is dated c.1850, and formerly functioned as a public house. The recently installed, spacious interior of this clinic includes two waiting areas, with consulting rooms on two floors. The large open space on the ground floor inadvertently acts as a thoroughfare between the street and an adjoining pharmacy. A similar first floor area immediately above is isolated from the main practice activity and reception staff.
Staff highlighted the complex relationship between privacy and visibility for both patients and staff in the waiting areas. The challenge in this clinic is to achieve areas of privacy and seclusion for patients and at the same time retain the need for staff to see patients and ensure their safety. The relationship between the self-check-in service and the reception desk either causes patient congestion or is under-used. Privacy in both ground floor and first floor waiting areas are also at two extremes: the open busy space of the ground floor contrasts with quiet first floor, there is no visual connection between the floors, potentially compromising patient safety. Patients also highlighted noise levels, ergonomic concerns and the bland ‘institutional’ aesthetic that pervades the space.
A radical re-think was proposed by Meghan Remfry-Peploe and Molly Holman-Sheard. Opening up a large aperture in the ground floor ceiling leads to a more social, connected and uplifting space, which allows light to permeate through the building. Mobile partitions offer choice and flexibility, the use of semi-transparent materials reflect natural light and create open sightlines. Circulation issues in the surgery are tackled by the creation of new smaller waiting areas, which provide private and intimate areas for patients.
Visually connecting the two floors in this surgery makes the space more communal and creates a feeling of unity between the staff and patients. Working to limit isolation in the building makes it less intimidating for patients and more efficient for staff. The contradictory elements of the original design can be addressed relatively easily to create a friendlier, less intimidating building. Interesting viewpoints, thoughtful materials and visual stimulation for patients can significantly change their experience and impact positively on the wellbeing of all users.