Klein Architects recently celebrated the opening of our ‘Shortland Health’ GP Clinic project in Auckland’s CBD, and while a small project in size it represents a number of big ideas we are really excited to explore now the project is complete. The client for the project, Omni Health, has partnered with the international organisation Sanford World Clinics in its mission to deliver modern and forward thinking health facilities across the globe. Shortland Health will be the first such project in Australasia.
Adopting the principals of ‘concierge’, or subscription based healthcare, and locating the new practice for ultimate convenience in the CBD, Omni health is seeking to appeal to city workers with on-demand healthcare provision they can access easily through their working day. A subscription based model allows doctors to take on less patients, and encourages patients to visit more often; with the result being richer relationships and improved longer-terms health outcomes.
In the physical space, the client wanted to avoid all the things we dislike about the average trip to the doctor. This allowed us to take a deep dive into the patient experience and ask ourselves some challenging questions, like; if no one likes waiting, then why have a waiting room at all?
This type of questioning became a key feature of the design process, as we looked to adopt the concept of ‘concierge’ into the patient experience, as informed by the business model. The results lift this project high above the ‘normal’ healthcare experience, and hopefully lay foundations for the future delivery of primary healthcare in New Zealand.
Approaching the clinic from the foyer of 51 Shortland Street, the bold neon signage, rich brass wall, and lush planting deliver a contemporary retail shop front for the new ground floor tenancy.
Inside there is no messy reception desk or dusty magazines, rather patients, or ‘clients’, will be greeted by concierge staff, offered refreshment for a moment in the lounge as they collect themselves and begin to ‘login’ on the tablets provided for appointment booking and patient records. This modest, calming space is dominated by the brass top leaner, and back-dropped by the biophillic green wall. As a social space, seated or standing patients are welcomed by staff and allowed to relax; relieving stress and reducing anxiety.
Adjacent to the lounge, the onsite pharmacy will conveniently fill subscriptions and provide an element of retail.
The warm, curving timber walls lead from the lounge to the various clinic and specialist patient rooms. Overhead, sculptural timber arches create a ceiling canopy of natural materials, broken by sleek, bespoke black steel lighting. In another change to convention, here clinic rooms are the patients domain; designed to be calming and comfortable with comfortable furniture and soft fabrics. Medical staff are mobile, rather than based in the clinic room. This means no cluttered desks, or the feeling of pressure for patients to vacate the room; it is theirs for as long as they need.
Furniture in the clinic room is arranged for conversation and engagement between patient and doctor, facing each other across a small table, rather than talking to the back of the doctors head as they tap away at a keyboard. While comfortable and inviting, Shortland Health provides all the technical requirements of a clinical environment. The practice will provide GP, physio and specialist consultation services, and is Cornerstone accredited.
Other facilities include lab tests, medical utilities, staff lounge and write up space. The ‘back of house’ areas allow for a number of task-based work spaces, and amenity for staff to look after their own wellbeing through a busy day.
From a design perspective the project was centrally focused on Klein Architects ‘wellness in design’ philosophy, seeking to create environments for people to thrive, not just survive. By actively addressing the impact of the built environment on an individual’s health, both mental and physical, we look to transform health spaces into healthy spaces. This is a small distinction to make, but we believe recognising the difference is vital in improving the health outcomes in all our projects.