Hinterland studio is an international practice based in Porto, Hinterland which defines as – an area lying beyond what is visible or known. The firm believes in a firm philosophy of providing design solutions to clients in personalized ways with an experienced background. The clients feel valued and proud in quality environments. 

Through their projects, they have a very unique way of dealing with subtle pastel colors, crisp lines that convey edges, verticality, and horizontality, and a variety of textures and finishes. One such project that can be considered a mascot of the firm is the Physiotherapy Clinic for Mar Saúde. It was also nominated for Building of the year awards by Archdaily.

“I think white is the most wonderful color of all because within it one can find every color of the rainbow.” – Richard Meier

Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet1
Reception of the clinic ©archdaily.com

Year: 2018
Area: 230 m²
Place : Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

The project is the total transformation of an existing commercial space into a physiotherapy clinic. The site conditions are such that it is defined by a proportion of 9mx33m and a small skewed corner in the backend of the site. The site dimension lends to having direct sunlight only through the smaller side of the site. The planning of spaces is done keeping in mind the energy efficiency of the building by cutting down on artificial light in common and most used spaces in the clinic. 

Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet2
Floor plan ©archdaily.com

The brief from the client demanded a clinic consisting of Common spaces such as the reception and waiting area, Cabinets/consultation rooms, Gym, and spa. To align with the energy efficiency goal for the clinic, the distribution of reception and gym is laid out in the former end of the site, the areas receiving direct sunlight. While rooms where privacy is needed and will be used based on the footfall of the clinic, they are located in the interior of the clinic. 

Identify the essential, elimate the rest – Leo Babauta

The minimalist approach is the most essential thing that has been strived by the design team in this project. With the existing site conditions, shape and neighbouring buildings, to make the best out of existing is the next essential thing. The challenge here is to bring in the interesting element in most minimal way due to very less space availability. One way the team has achieved it is by introducing slight curvilinear walls into the space opening up to the corridor. Also in few places, the structural grid that is usually considered to be the rigid element in the entire design process, here the stereotype is again broken and we can celebrate the presence of the structural elements adding to the character and beauty of the clinic. 

The central corridor plays as the sole entity for the circulation and distribution of the various spaces in the clinic that can be accessed by the visitors and the clinic staff. It is the spine of the entire clinic. Though the  emphasis on the corridor could be addressed in various ways that grabbed attention, the way Hinterland studio has subtly put forward their belief in simplicity and functionality for the user.

Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet3
Central corridor ©archdaily.com
Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet4
Central corridor ©archdaily.com

As one walks through the corridor, we can observe the color-coded cabinets that bring in an element of play amongst the monotonous whites all around, and it also acts as a functional element that can be suitable for impaired patients. 

Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet6
Color-coded rooms and interiors ©archdaily.com
Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet7
Color-coded rooms and interiors ©archdaily.com

The consultation rooms after being color coded with the entrances, they have also been color-coded within the room with the straight line up of tiles that act as the backsplash for the hand-wash area. The expression of brutality can be witnessed here, where once again the functionality meets aesthetics. These tiles compliment with the completely white walls and sleek furnitures.

Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet8
Color-coded rooms and interiors ©archdaily.com
Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet9
Color-coded rooms and interiors ©archdaily.com

Another unique detail that can be observed is the contrast in enhancing the edges between the ceiling and walls by slight recess and bringing in the fluidity by having a few curved walls. The exposed circular columns show the brutal character of the design philosophy along with other elements. 

Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet10
Gym of the clinic ©archdaily.com
Physiotherapy Clinic by Hinterland Architecture Studio - Sheet11
Contrast of edges and curvilinear forms ©archdaily.com
The brutalist emphasis of the edges and column ©archdaily.com

Lastly, uniformity amongst the spaces is achieved through the white walls which also enhances the daylight entering the space and makes the spaces more voluminous visually. Vinyl payment adds to the uniformity of the space while the exceptional character of the clinic is the spa that has finishing done of vertical wood elements and artificial lights

Spa of the clinic ©archdaily.com
Spa of the clinic ©archdaily.com


ArchDaily. (2020). Physiotherapy Clinic / Hinterland Architecture Studio. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/917427/physiotherapy-clinic-hinterland-architecture-studio 


Prerana is upbeat, strong willed and fiercely moral. She is an aspirant in the architecture field with a keen interest in researching and understanding parallels between human behaviour and architecture. She believes in breaking stereotypes whether in architecture or life. Prerana's enthusiasm and optimism fuels her every move. When alone, one can find her with the animals and capturing stories through her lens.