Espace 313 has unveiled its groundbreaking transformation of a private surgical clinic located in Westmount Square, a landmark building designed by the renowned architect Mies van der Rohe in the 1960s. This project challenges traditional hospital design norms and focuses on enhancing the human experience and overall well-being of patients and staff.
For many years, hospitals and medical clinics were constructed with efficiency as the primary goal, often neglecting the critical human and aesthetic aspects of the environment. It was not until the 1990s, following extensive studies demonstrating the profound impact of the environment on patient behavior, that the aesthetic considerations in healthcare settings became a genuine concern for design professionals.
Espace 313 took on the task of completely reimagining and renovating an 8,000 square-foot private surgical clinic in downtown Montreal, with a primary focus on moving away from the cold, sterile atmosphere typically associated with healthcare environments.
Light as a Conductor
Placing the human factor at the heart of their creative process, Espace 313’s design proposal emphasizes functional and aesthetic choices designed to positively influence the behavior of both patients and staff. The design maximizes the use of natural light, reducing dependency on artificial lighting during the day. Numerous glazed partitions were installed to diffuse natural light throughout the building, a stark contrast to the harsh, clinical lighting common in healthcare facilities. In areas where natural light isn’t abundant, soft, warm lighting was strategically implemented to create a soothing atmosphere.
The User at the Center of the Creative Process
Drawing from environmental psychology, the designers sought to create a unique experience that helps visitors and patients manage the stress associated with medical procedures. The concept revolved around the principle of connecting with nature, using soft earthy colors, curved volumes, and natural materials reminiscent of a residential aesthetic. Vegetation was introduced to create a connection to the outdoors, promoting relaxation among users.
Gatline Artis, owner of Espace 313, explained, “This was achieved with the use of a soft, earthy color palette, curved volumes, and natural materials that echo a residential aesthetic. Vegetation also plays an important role, as it creates a connection to the outdoors and nature, which are well known to induce a sense of relaxation in users.”
Inspired by the Human Body
The administrative area, which includes the reception, consultation rooms, and offices, draws inspiration from the aesthetics and softness of the human body. The use of faux plaster wall finishes, terracotta brick walls, organic-shaped furniture, and natural textiles creates an ambiance that resonates with the human form, embracing its curves, colors, and textures.
One of the primary challenges of the project was to carry this aesthetic through to the consultation rooms and pre- and post-operative areas. These spaces often require specialized materials and equipment, which may not align with the desired sophisticated aesthetics. Extensive research and innovation led to the use of high-performance materials with a residential feel, such as wood-effect finishes, imitation linen fabrics, and artificial vegetation.
Attention to detail extends even to the sanitary facilities, where materials and lighting were carefully chosen to ensure that patients feel comfortable and at ease throughout their stay.
With this groundbreaking conceptual proposal, Espace 313 redefines hospital design, offering a unique vision of the medical clinic of tomorrow, where aesthetics and warmth coexist with health and the hospital environment.
Official Project Name: Westmount Square Surgical Center
Location: Westmount, QC, Canada
Studio: Espace 313
Designers team: Debby Pagé, Gatline Artis & Kelian Vallier
Suppliers: Slik Design, Decor Veronneau, Ramacieri Soligo, Studio Bottè, Bludot, Gauley Brothers, Distrimar, Artopex, Cime, AND Light, Jacques & Anna
Area: 7850 sq.ft.
Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet
Awards: Gold certification at the Grands Prix du Design – 16th edition