- Waiting Rooms -
Ship Street surgery is located in a narrow side street near the seafront in central Brighton. It has one GP and a number of other services and clinics. A large waiting area on the ground floor includes an open reception desk and partitioned children’s area. Access to another much smaller waiting space above is via a lift or stairs. A narrow corridor and staff areas overlook the part-glazed internal walls of the upper waiting room, which also has a small outward facing window.
The premises are shared with another business making both external and internal entrances confusing. The main ground floor waiting room and reception is an expansive gloomy space, which is largely under-occupied. This space and the one above it present opposing structural problems, but are united by limited natural light. A sense of isolation experienced in both spaces impacts on staff and patient communication. Patient feedback pinpointed the need for “ a lighter and brighter atmosphere” and “’simple’ quick, activities to help relax the family”, suggesting that these would improve the clinic waiting experience overall.
The lack of functional, comfortable, ergonomically appropriate furniture and equipment in the surgery inspired Becky Marshal and Gabrielle Bailey to find a solution for the two waiting areas by creating one flexible design. These standalone, temporary units are made from CNC cut plywood and do not have any structural impact on the building itself and their adaptable structure can be extended into the large waiting area or reduced in the smaller one. Increasing patient confidentiality and privacy is central to the concept, which also addresses issues of boredom and lack of choice; an important issue when waiting times can be protracted. The modular seating design allows adults and the elderly to work and relax, whilst the smaller seating with integrated toys and activities is designed to stimulate and occupy children. Fold-out tables are available to accommodate a variety of inter-generational needs, whilst seating with cushioning and arm supports assists the elderly and disabled in their mobility and comfort.
This modular structure offers the opportunity to remove the confining walls of the upstairs waiting area while still giving the illusion of a room. The modules can be constructed to create intimate, private or social spaces; they are both playful and functional, meeting a wide range of patient needs. The units also enhance waiting areas, by creating a more uplifting aesthetic.
The improvement of the waiting experience is at the heart of this design. It also recognizes that carers, family members and dependents often accompany patients, and their needs should also be acknowledged. The modular seating is designed to address the patient’s sense of exposure and anxiety, the privacy it affords aims to increase their psychological comfort. Flexible in its design and configuration it offers stimulation and choice, its permeable design implies division, whilst maintaining opportunities for social interaction, whilst the potential of the design to impact on the structural layout of the surgery encourages further opportunities for increased communication between staff and patients.