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Doctor’s offices get playful

Doctor’s offices get playful

Normally bland and impersonal, gynaecologist’s offices don’t often make the cut for design awards. But this warm, playful and seductively curvaceous solution in Auckland, by Tim Dorrington of Dorrington Architects, breaks the mould to make potentially anxious clients feel more relaxed. It gained highly commended for an interior fitout in the New Zealand Timber Design Awards 2010 as well as a bronze for ‘Spatial Design—Rooms’, in the Best Design Awards

The fit-out of a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist’s office— owned by Dr Anil Sharma—called for two consult rooms, a surgery room, a waiting and reception area, staffroom and storage area. 

With a keen eye for detail, Sharma sought a more inviting mood in contrast to the clinical and predominantly neutral colour scheme of traditional doctors’ offices. Words like relaxing, luxurious, soothing, private and stylish arose as part of the initial brief. Rather than an all white interior, Sharma opted for timber finishes to give a contemporary look that would stand the test of time and remain appropriate for the nature of his work, throughout a 30 year lease.  

Specific items of furniture were already provided in the consulting rooms and surgery. But the Sharma also wanted the waiting and reception areas to have a bold, clean feel as it would occasionally need to function as a lecture space for up to 50 people. 

Dorrington Architects had free reign to re-conceptualize the space. “We started with the idea of working with strand board fins to redefine the internal space, changing the ceiling height and creating a cozy cave-like interior,” says Tim. This innovative approach was achieved by drawing the shapes of the fins on the computer. They were then sent to a CNC router to be cut then put together on site like a giant jigsaw puzzle. 

Individual rooms are treated as pods within the overall space, defined by fins painted different colours to accentuate their separation. The reception counter is designed as a stand-alone object and storage behind the counter has been created and defined by the fins as they meet the walls and floor, providing decoration as well as functionality. 

Materials are deliberately pared back for a sense of simplicity and honesty. Concrete flooring was exposed and ground; the strand board fins are clear sealed; lighting is kept simple with exposed dolly bulbs hanging between the fins. Focus remains on the overall design aesthetic of warmth and informality rather than on individual fittings. 

The fins provided a clever solution that answered the Sharma’s definite ideas for this space. On entering, the warmth of the effect of the lowered cave-like ceiling is evident. It feels far removed from the expected entry to an obstetrician’s office.