A healthcare interior for an oncology and dialysis unit designed to be less intimidating for patients than the typical clinical environment
Client: Althaia Xarxa, Assistencial
Location: Manresa, Catalonia
Environmental and interior design: Rai Pinto, raipinto.com
Graphic design: Dani Rubio Arauna, arauna.studio
Architecture: Jaume Espinal, Joan, Ribera and PSP, Arquitectura
Words by Sophie Tolhurst
Images by Pol Viladoms
The blue and pink walls suggest a sunset, bringing the natural world into the hospital setting
While their designs in these children’s units are full of bright patterns, stunning interactive machines and colourful 3D depictions of animals through layered fins or rods, this project, for an oncology and dialysis unit serving Spain’s central Catalonia region, takes a different approach, while understanding that, essentially, adults need the clinical, intimidating and technology-heavy hospital environment to be humanised too.
With this in mind, the studios transformed the space into something warmer and more comforting. Their main approach was to bring in the elements of nature that humans are more apt to respond to, drawing on the particular landscape of the surrounding Manresa region. The interiors become a semi-fantastic mountain scene, with extensive use of the silhouetted detail of the Montserrat mountain range, and the lights and colours of the sky above it. This helps re-establish a sense of place for patients, with a connection to the landscape beyond the hospital walls.
Catalonia’s Montserrat mountain range provided inspiration for the interior
This mountaintop detail is repeated throughout: partition walls and enclosures are topped with the stepped, skyline-like edge. Like a diorama, the outer walls of the room can be seen as the backdrop of sky, gradating colourfully from blue to pink, in a suggestion of sunset, and no doubt calming for patients undergoing difficult medical treatments.
This skyline comes as a pattern in many iterations: elsewhere, the contrast is between wood mountains and a glossy blue sky; sometimes it’s a design to give privacy to glass-walled rooms. (It is also a graphic for the mental health children’s unit, where the mountain range is more abstract and separates plain expanses of wall from printed sections.)
Text on both the walls and ceiling is a key feature of the design
Graphics and text were a key feature of the design, and a poem adorning the walls and occasionally the ceilings is an ‘ad hoc’ response to the local landscape by Catalan poet Laia Martinez. These are rendered in both vinyl and 3D letters of lacquered MDF that stand out from the walls. They are also finished in the sky’s colours of blue, purple, and orange, and are staggered as if a mountainscape themselves.
A natural feel is given by the inclusion of wood finishes in the colour palette, in vinyl flooring from Tarkett, and high-pressure laminate surfaces and bespoke furniture by Fundermax, or picked out in the occasional letter of the wall text. Benches by Inclasse pick up the colour palette, with a neutral combination of white and beige.
A natural feel is given by the inclusion of wood finishes in the colour palette. Here, it is contrasted with glossy blue
A central enclosure was necessary to allow staff a comprehensive view of the patients at all times, with lowered walls balancing the feeling of privacy, and visibility provided for just those who need it. The wood finishes to surfaces and bespoke furniture makes a welcome change from the usual hospital kit-out.
Rai Pinto Studio and Arauna Studio have developed a knack for colourful and engaging spaces. Here, for the functional areas of the hospital for adult patients, design elements are more understated, but still transformative.
Flooring (vinyl with wood, granite and warm grey finishes)
Bespoke printed vinyl wallcoverings
High-pressure laminate (wallcoverings, front panels, bespoke furniture)
Upholstery fabrics (medical chairs and other furniture)
Benches and chairs