Cox Rayner's university health centre aims to reduce anxiety in patients

| 2 comments

Inside Festival 2015: Casey Vallance of Cox Rayner Architects explains how the firm used natural materials to create a calming environment inside a dentist training facility in Brisbane, Australia, in this exclusive movie.

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

Cox Rayner Architects won the Health and Education category at Inside Festival 2015 for the University of Queensland Oral Health Centre, an education facility for dentistry students.

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

"We were told early on by the professors at the university that there is a very high anxiety associated with the dentistry profession," Cox Rayner Architects director Vallance explains in the film. "We looked at ways to reduce that."

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

The Australian architecture firm took advantage of the site's location adjacent to a park to create a welcoming entrance and reception area for the facility, Casey says.

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

"We really wanted to change the experience of arriving at a healthcare centre," he explains.



"While the building adjoins a hospital, we positioned the entrances into the clinic and reception areas directly off the park."

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

Stone floors and wood panelling on the walls and ceilings were used to create a relationship between the building interior and the park outside.

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

"We looked at the natural environment of the park and thought how we could incorporate materials from that landscape," Vallance says. "We used timber species found within the park and stone to create a much more relaxed environment."

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

Vallance says his team approached the design of the reception areas as if they were living rooms.

"We really wanted to change the scale from a very large open-plan environment to a far more intimate and personal space," he explains. "We looked at creating a calming environment for the patients as they arrive."

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

For the main teaching spaces, Vallance says the key was striking a balance between an environment that feels intimate for patients with one that allows students and teachers to observe operations.

To achieve this, Cox Rayner Architects created a series of glass cubicles, with each one set out like a small private clinic.

University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects

"Typically you'd have 30 to 40 chairs within one space," he says. "We changed that to a one-on-one experience, a single chair within a room."


Subscribe to Dezeen's YouTube channel for the latest architecture and design movies


He continues: "But it's a teaching facility, so clear observation and safety needed to be considered. Hence the use of glass for transparency, but in a far more relaxed environment."

Casey Vallance, director at Cox Rayner Architects
Casey Vallance, director at Cox Rayner Architects. Photograph by Dezeen

This movie was produced by Dezeen for Inside Festival. It was filmed at Inside Festival 2015 in Singapore. All photography used in the movie and this story is by Christopher Frederick Jones, unless otherwise stated.

Inside Festival 2015 took place in Singapore from 4 to 6 November, alongside partner event World Architecture Festival. Dezeen is media partner for both events, and is publishing video interviews with all the category winners.

  • CoraBee

    Beautiful entry but if the facility is truly designed to reduce anxiety then one would expect there to be some intervention in the most anxiety-inducing aspect of oral surgery, which is experienced when sitting in the treatment chair.

    It appears that no design attention was given to the ceilings in these areas in which patients’ points of view are fixed upwards.

  • thepixinator

    Wow, that building – interior and exterior – are so visually chaotic, it’s not remotely relaxing. There are a lot of different materials being used, a whole lot of sharp angles, the waiting area seating is flat and hard; you go from a relatively dark reception area into glaringly bright treatment areas with cold fluorescent lighting and severe white walls.

    There seems to be no clear signage or sense of the purpose of spaces. The entry way doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. There are no soothing colours. The floors are hard and cold; the sounds of clacking heels are not soothing. And CoraBee is right, the ceilings of the treatment areas would be a great opportunity to place relaxing motifs or illustrations, even screens, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.

    I don’t know what architects and designers think when they think “relaxation,” but they’re not thinking about it from a patient’s perspective.