Entrance and Staff Room
Situated a stone’s throw from Brighton Pavilion, this Regency building retains many historic features. Originally designed as a house in 1790, it has been adapted piecemeal over several decades. The entrance is situated towards the back of the building in a dark, narrow road and leads into a small reception and waiting area. Staff areas are situated immediately behind the reception desk and on the first floor via the original staircase.
A wide range of design issues were identified in the building, two key spaces: the neglected entrance area and garage, and a multi-function staff area are seen as the most pivotal for patient and staff wellbeing. Both areas function ineffectively and have unrealised potential to be more aesthetically considered. The external design of the entrance also accommodates an access ramp and refuse bins, it lacks clear signposting from the street, making access confusing and unappealing. The multi-function room serves as a temporary office, kitchen, meeting room and storage space, and these multiple types of occupancy create pressures on the space, which affect all its users.
Natalie Kerrison’s design transforms the dingy, ill-defined space of the multi-function staff room into an inviting, surprising and workable environment. This flexible, ‘room within a room’, provides much needed privacy; light and temperature control for its occupants and creates a playful juxtaposition of styles and materials against the elegant aesthetic of the original room. The lofty ceiling accommodates an elevated level with a contained workspace, freeing the space below for social, professional and administrative activities. Elements such as a meeting table, chairs, a kitchenette, lockers, a clothes dryer, and patient files are contained in the lower part of the structure. The elevated office space above sweeps towards the window, affording a view of the sea, as well as natural ventilation and increased light. Constructed from a wooden skeleton structure wrapped in a translucent fabric, privacy is achieved whilst allowing natural light to permeate the interior. The lower section of the structure can be re-configured in a multitude of forms by the use of sliding and folding sections. The structure neatly both inhabits and liberates the space according to the changing needs of the staff.
Charlotte Cooper’s proposal for the entrance looks outwards, focusing on the integration of the practice into the community. Her design uses planting to enhance the immediate environment around the practice, engage visitors and blur the boundary between the building’s exterior and interior. Influenced by evidence that our health is impacted most by social and economic factors, her design for the adjoining garage space encourages local pop-up activities and businesses. Responding to the constant issue of storage in the building, the re-configured garage also relieves the impact that discarded items and patient records are having on the building.
Signposting from the street is achieved through an extensive DIY green wall planting, starting near the front of the building and moving back towards the entrance. Plants extend as a green canopy over the entrance ramp near the garage, providing shelter leading patients towards the pivoting, semi transparent doors and into the surgery reception area.
Improving the environments experienced by all users of this surgery will ensure that their interaction is the best it can be. The external proposal looks outwards into the community and offers opportunities for many different kinds of involvement. The interior design also addresses social cohesion by encouraging greater interaction between the staff through a unique structure. These small interventions could potentially have a huge impact on the overall health of this surgery, supporting new relationships between staff and patients and the community beyond.