Collaboration with FAR Frohn & Rojas
A mobile phone company diversified into a medical imaging with its first site in an existing building in Canary Wharf. Located on the ground floor of one of the ubiquitous postmodern office high-rises that redefined the docklands in the 1980s, the existing architectural space had a very large floor plate, low ceilings and an awkwardly irrational overall geometry.
The whimsical curved exterior of the host building, with its small-scale random kinks, made no attempt to communicate with the ultra-rational structural grid that characterised the interior. Our design embraced this geometric conflict. While consultation rooms occupy the curved exterior wall and receive natural light from the façade, the diagnostic and surgical areas follow the rationale of the interior grid.
Circulation and waiting areas occupy the ‘space between’, an unusual, saw-toothed, ‘anti-corridor’. The internal U-glass façade allows daylight to filter through the consulting spaces into the main public zone. The public space between obliterates the long, intimidating, artificially lit corridor, so characteristic of most medical buildings. Much of the design aimed to address the fear that so often accompanies visits to medical centres.
In the gridded zone, MRI, X-Ray and CT scanning machines each had their own invisible envelopes of influence – magnetic forces, or fields of radiation – that had to be designed around, and which required screening materials. These were accommodated and offset by a playfulness in surface treatments. Book-matched material finishes included wood panelling in screening rooms, the marble of the reception desk, and wallpapers, creating abstract patterns like Rorschach ink blots, reminiscent of the symmetrical diagnostic imagery of MRI and CT scanners.