- Article by Molecule
- Photography by Shannon McGrath
- Designer Molecule
Sidestepping clinical formulae and kindergarten clichés, a Melbourne paediatric clinic in a Victorian shop shell evokes a tranquil spa setting.
Within the narrow, single volume interior, the objective was to incorporate reception, waiting and consultation spaces, a staff kitchenette and a private area for breast-feeding. The aesthetic intent was a calm setting for young patients and their parents, and with the interior character on display to the street, it forms an important aspect of the clinic’s visual identity.
A thickened cabinetry wall is inserted into the narrow space; a singular gesture consolidating all of the functional elements. The wall incorporates storage and habitable niches for the entry portal, examination bed, children’s play space and kitchenette.
A restrained material palette and tectonic detailing strengthen the wall’s presence. Its clear articulation as an element of layers -plywood skin, green ‘flesh’, white laminate lining – achieves a strong contrast between the sensory profile on each side of the wall. The contrast seemingly stretches any distances travelled and enlarges the clinic in the process.
The primacy of children in the space is reflected in unexpected ways. Just like a cubby, the scale of the play niche is exclusively for kids. The Jenga-inspired treatment of the plywood wall suggests an oversized puzzle, with push-catches for an Advent-calendar thrill as to whether panels open or don’t. These devices imbue a sense of mystery or awe and, in the process, remind us we were all children once.