The doctor’s office is usually a place to be left as quickly as possible: arbitrary, impersonal and of little architectural value. With a newly opened medical practice on the Währinger Gürtel, the Viennese architect’s firm, smartvoll, is proving that there are other ways of doing things. The architecture reflects and reinforces the medical team’s philosophy of treating the patient as a valued customer.
A MEDICAL PRACTICE AS AN OASIS OF WELL BEING
The patient as a consumer - and not as a number. Under this motto, the private internist’s clinic “Health for Life” opened in October 2014 on the Währinger Gürtel in the 9th district in Vienna. The key factor in meeting this requirement in everyday medical practice is the architectural factor: understood as a means of melting away fears, building trust and expressing appreciation. Last but not least, the design also reflects the quality of the medical services to the outside world.
Philipp Buxbaum and Christian Kircher from the Vienna-based office of smartvoll architekten are responsible for this. In close cooperation with the clients - two young hospital doctors who have now become self-employed in managing the practice - a concept was developed that is tailored entirely to the needs of the patients. An important aspect here is avoiding frontal situations. Right at the start, in the entrance area there is no regular reception desk, but rather an info point. There is also no central waiting room. Instead, the patients take a seat in front of the respective treatment rooms in cozy and discreet waiting niches, from where they are led directly into the treatment room by the attending doctor. Communication takes place on a one-to-one basis: “The doctor and patient sit down together at a table for a conversation. We even made sure that the chairs were the same - not with a doctor on a nice chair on this side, and the patient on a simple stool on the other,”the architects explain.
The - barrier-free - entrance to the medical practice was moved from the main road to a side street for reasons of discretion, which eliminates any drawbacks of the disadvantageous location. Except in the entrance area, “where the connection to the outside is important”, a curtain surrounds the premises. The turning-inward, away from the street, creates a familiar, secure atmosphere, underscored by the warm tones of the parquet. Welcoming lighting is also essential. The light from the bright, transparent entrance is dimmed towards the waiting niches, while warm light in the treatment rooms ensures relaxation for the patient.
The design of the medical practice contributes considerable added value, and not only for the patients. Architecture also serves as a unique selling point and means of positioning for the owners, also in relation to the competition. “In this area,” added Buxbaum and Kircher, “there’s still a lot of room for improvement in Vienna.”