The clients for this project wanted to amalgamate their services into a more efficient and sustainable single-practice. The new design was intended to better serve the needs of their two communities, playing a broader role as a community-building in this remote rural area.
This rural surgery, a new building typology, is designed to blend into its sensitive context and minimise its impact on the environment.
Its outward expression is inspired by traditional farm buildings. The grouping of seemingly separate blocks and palette of materials is purposely traditional and thus feels familiar, but the detailing is contemporary, reflecting the modern service offered within.
Colour was carefully considered from the outset. 'Blood' red and lime green, the colours of Irish barns, are used here to highlight the reception and patient-waiting areas. Red, also a subtle reference to the traditional medical-box and blood, pops up in carefully chosen locations throughout the interior (e.g. the door of the treatment room but not the doctors' surgeries for instance) but does not dominate.
The glazed corridor is orientated to take advantage of the sun's energy and acts as a heat sink to modulate the building's temperature. The building is air-tight and highly insulated. In summer the south facing solar panels provide all hot water requirements.
Every opportunity has been taken to provide space for social interaction. The courtyard - a natural meeting point - has low-level walls acting as seating. The open-plan reception and waiting areas – complete with display areas for local news and health centre-related information - are designed as galleries.
The integration of the two practices and facilities has created an opportunity for much greater social cohesion in this rural community. It has provided a bright airy, welcoming building that is accessible to all, an environment that reflects the quality of service provided by the clients and sets a new benchmark for future rural surgeries.