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Whenever you’re sick, what comes together is anxiety. Oftentimes, a clinic or a medical facility becomes a place of distress and stress. This is the reason why Baan Brain Clinic – a neurology clinic in Chiang Rai, decided to not rely on conventional clinic designs to enhance a comfortable atmosphere for patients and ensure that they feel relaxed as if they were at home with their family. With the requirement of Watchara Rattanachaisit, M.D., an interior design team from 1922architects has actualized the idea.
Relaxing embraces of sun rays and natural breezes
“The doctor told us that he wanted every patient visiting here to feel relaxed, unlike other clinics in general. I myself used to be in the design team for Rajapruek Hospital in Khon Kaen, which required the similar thing. I’ve figured this out and realized. The thing that will make the patients feel relaxed would be the connection with nature. Here, we are not only talking about visuals, but also about how to design to enable a flow of nature into the space; for example, light and wind, or even some use of real trees in the building,” the architect said.
A 70-sqm corner shophouse with one floor and mezzanine is simply laid out as a clinic should be, with functions aligned on one side and the other side fully open as a long corridor leading to the back. This allows natural air to flow widely from the first floor to the mezzanine. As for the front, there is an openable canopy door with a screen to allow air flow. Likewise, at the corner, the building has a hole punched for natural light and wind, with also a swing door on the side for servicing, or moving large items to ensure convenience.
For a windless day, this clinic also has a hybrid system that controls indoor air quality using a positive pressure compressor in order to contain as much fresh air flow as possible. This is because good air helps transfer smells, germs while sunlight and wind also enhance airiness, helping to solve the problem of shophouse buildings that are known to be quite limited in size as. This is because a clinic does require several functional spaces such as a waiting area, reception counter, examination room, operating room, toilet and doctor’s rest area.
The side wall at the corner showcases glass blocks to let in natural light, and from here, we can also notice swaying shadows of trees. The architect said that, when the light reflects with the wall, the resulting effects keep changing. It is a small detail that helps create relaxation and add dimensions, movement within the building and also enables those inside to connect with the outside, whether in terms of time, light, shadow or perspective.
Although glass blocks are aligned in the direction that transfers heat to the building, in the evening, there is a shophouse on the opposite side to help shade sun rays. And on the side, there are trees on the premises to help filter out the heat. The designer added, “We’ve discussed with the doctor and came to a conclusion that bringing in natural light is worth more than encasing the building, which would make it completely opaque. At this point, we use a solution of adding an electric sunscreen that helps filter out about 70% of the light, just in case on a day when the sun is too hot.”
Make the most of the limited space
The layout is uncomplicated with the limited size of the clinic. All are arranged in a simple manner, from the reception counter, waiting room and examination room. In this examination room area, the designer designed a curved wall so that all spaces flow continually towards each other and lead to the back, reducing the uncomfortable feeling of a small space and also adding a gentle line to enhance relaxation even more. Moreover, we also decided to maintain the double volume of the original building and designed it to become a waiting area and a reception counter that are airy and well ventilated.
Next is the location of the examination room and procedure room with sloping ceiling, aligning with the floor of the original staircase so that the limited size room can be optimized as much as possible. Even though the internal space of both the examination room and the procedure room is segregated by a door, the interior is separated by only curtains that can be opened to connect if desired, reducing the density and increasing the flexibility of the space to minimize the restriction on the narrowness of the shophouse while making it look as open and airy as possible.
The counter area and the doctor’s examination room also have a long opening window. It also facilitates the doctor to easily communicate with the staff outside.
Furniture styles, decorations and small details that enhance the sense of home
In addition to the function, this clinic is full of details that create a home atmosphere to relieve patients’ worries and stress through design.
Starting from the entrance, which is designed to have a ramp to facilitate wheelchair use before entering the reception hall. In this area, the designer intended to design it differently from other general clinics, by minimizing the size of the counter, which is common furniture used by every clinic and hospital. The size is compact enough to place a computer or staff equipment. Others are floating furniture; for example, round tables and wooden chairs. They are sets of furniture for sitting and talking to make the atmosphere simple with no difference from sitting and talking with their relatives or grandchildren at home. Moreover, indoor plant pots were added in some parts to refresh the atmosphere.
Like other interior furniture, the designer chose to use wooden and natural tones such as rattan. Other materials still maintain its simplicity due to the limited budget, such as a wood-patterned rubber tile floor that gives a home atmosphere, which is also easy for cleaning. The wall part fills the warm and simple atmosphere by using E0 grade smooth sanded plywood coated with non-toxic solution. The designer added small details like wooden trims made from old furniture frames, repainted in new colors. It was to redesign a material that is easy to find for better appearance, and also to save the budget as well.
Although there are many limitations in size and budget, this clinic still uses design as a tool to meet the needs of the owner while also paying attention to the feelings of the patients. It would be gratifying as a designer to know that details or elements that he worked on to create the internal spaces will alleviate concerns or reduce the stress of the patients who visit Baan Brain Clinic in a way.
“We always have a question on every job we take: what we do it for? Whom we do it for? Therefore, the thing we will do, what should it be? We didn’t look at what style this clinic would be, but we started by asking the question: What components should a good clinic have? How can we be sure that the people who visit, both physicians and patients, will be surrounded by a pleasant atmosphere? How can we make the atmosphere inside relaxed? It’s just a matter of setting up questions and answering questions that we have set out,” the architect added.
Client : Baan Brain Clinic
Interior Design : 1922 Architects
Lighting Design : Lundi Light Design
Contractor : Boondham
Photograph : tempography.arch