U+B Architecture and Design were commissioned to design an outpatient clinic for children.
How were you commissioned?:
Selected by the primary project donor.
What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:
There are more than eight million children missing school each year due to severe pain and 50,000 children die in pain annually in the U.S. - and there are only a handful of specialists nationwide who are seeing these children.
How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:
We designed the clinic to ensure it reflected the progressive nature of the treatment children would receive in it while utilizing calming colors, materials, lighting and sound.
How did your previous experience help you with this project?:
Our practice is broad but with minimal previous exposure to healthcare facilities. Our fresh approach to the project afforded a space and experience not common in healthcare settings.
Can you explain the layout of the project:
The 10,000-square-foot outpatient clinic on the campus of Children's Minneapolis hospital consists of nine treatment rooms featuring a unique range of healing and therapeutic elements for children with acute, chronic and procedural pain, as well as life-limiting diseases. The typical exam room plays a supporting role to larger consultation rooms designed for comfortable meetings between family and care team, complete with play areas for children. The entire design, from spatial programming to the selection of furnishings and upholstery, was intended to create an environment that provides Minneapolis residents, and the Upper Midwest, with a clinical option for pediatric pain management that supports the various treatment needs of the patients including not only traditional medical therapies but also biofeedback, group therapy, physical therapy, massage, aroma therapy and acupuncture.
What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:
A multi-sensory (Snoezelen) room
How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:
The new space is a clear departure from typical pediatric clinics and was created to appeal to all ages of children as well as adults. The innovative design incorporates natural wood floors and walls, large scale hyper-clsuspended canopy ceiling of backlit leaf imagery and a "grotto" with an interactive virtual waterfall designed as a sensory escape for patients. In keeping with the mission of holistic healing all interior materials were chosen for their environmental attributes especially their lack of toxins and allergenic properties that could affect sensitive patients. Specially designed acoustic controls and separations ensure patient privacy and staff comfort, while sounds of nature permeate the clinic via an integrated audio system. Lighting throughout the space is soft and indirect and the sophisticated lighting system mimics the lighter and darker periods of the diurnal cycle to create a serene and stress reducing atmosphere. The innovative "Snoezelen" Room is a patient controlled multisensory space filled with various types of lighting, texture, color, sounds and music to soothe the senses and reduce anxiety, pain and stress.
Photo credits: Andrea Rugg