This brick beauty was originally the ANZ bank on High St, Northcote. With a formal authority it welcomed people in to make cash transactions. When Tamsin & Chris took on the space they planned to change all that. With a popular existing medical clinic next door, bursting at the seams, they jumped at the chance to create the kind of medical clinic that would celebrate their vision of wellness.

Project Name: Turn The Corner Medical Clinic
Studio Name: Drawing Room Architecture
Project Size: 200 m2
Site Size: 250 m2
Completion Date: 2020
Building Levels: 2
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Photography: Daniel Fuge

©Daniel Fuge

Their brief was to make it NOT look or feel like a medical clinic. No white, no foreboding formal reception desk, no hard hose-down-able surfaces. The space was to be warm, inviting & inclusive. With the main patron groups being sexual health & maternal child health, individuals required very different waiting spaces, not one large centre space fitting of its earlier life as a bank.

Creating 9 new consult rooms, a treatment room, vaccination room, nurses room and two separate waiting areas meant every last square metre was needed. With accessibility being key to patrons with prams, wheelchairs or walkers, a generous lift was needed to connect the two floors. The clients wanted patrons to be able to wait in comfort, plug in their laptop, do some work, grab a glass of water, throw out the kids snack wrappers or read a book in a welcoming environment.

©Daniel Fuge

Beyond the spatial requirements the space needed to be local, warm, personal, inviting. Colours of the bush create a series of entry, waiting, corridor and consulting spaces; with names like Cuddlepot, Green Ash, Jungle Moss, Thicket & Banksia Leaf speaking to the several layers of green that climb the walls, get lighter as you move up to the second level and warmer as you find your way to the family waiting area at the rear of the building.

Black butt, Vic Ash, and Huon Pine circular table tops offer surfaces to wait, work, rest & play. Circular lines etch the floor speaking to the flow of foot traffic as well as a disruption to the earlier authority of the double height space. Woolly, textured hand-woven jute line the waiting benches, the antithesis of typical white hard surfaces. Crisp green tiled bays indicate public hand wash and filtered water stations, here glasses are available instead of disposable cups.

©Daniel Fuge

These water stations speak to the local area of cafes, pubs & wine bars, no white tiles used here. Bins for recycled & organic waste allow patrons to clear out their bags with peace of mind, even waste is well cared for here. A suspended baffle hovers over the main area, disrupting views, creating a more intimate space and casting angular shadows as the daylight casts shadows around the interior throughout the day.

An angular reception desk unlike one ever seen in a ‘serious’ medical clinic, like the echidna of reception desk, allows the staff and visitors some humour in an otherwise charged environment. Open pigeon holes line both waiting areas, waiting quietly for the lifting of COVID restrictions, when toys, a library of books and plants can once again find their home. Large graphics march along the new timber floors, way finding for new visitors, bringing them to their doctors door.

©Daniel Fuge

In the consult rooms themselves a relaxed palette of green, bayleaf, timber and black help doctors and patrons to discuss the matters at hand in a relaxed, informal environment. Those needing to head upstairs pass a painting of the Australian bush painted for the space by local artist Joe Blundell. Layers of thought and love have been focused into this space, by the visionary clients, local architects and hardworking building team.

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