Chinese studio RIGI Design has placed a dining table and kids' play area in the waiting room of a dental clinic intended to be warm and welcoming (+ slideshow).
Located in the port city of Tianjin in northeastern China, the surgery uses informal furnishings, bright colours and low-key branding to create a comfortable environment.
RIGI Design wanted "a waiting area like a dining room" for the 250-square-metre clinic, so that patients would feel more relaxed.
"Waiting chairs in traditional hospitals are arranged in a parallel way," said the studio. "However, it is this sense of order that enhances the unease of patients."
By arranging the waiting area around a rectangular dining table instead, RIGI Design hoped to make the space feel more like a home. "Here, people can sit face to face," the studio said. "They could communicate with each other or wait quietly."
The RIGI team – led by designer Liu Kai – also placed a children's area with animal-shaped furniture and a chalkboard wall within the waiting area, so that it could influence the adults in the space.
"Caring for kids is caring for adults," said RIGI Design. "A clinic which cares for kids would, to some degree, present a sense of caring and responsibility."
The dining table and play area are both situated beside the reception desk, which sits just inside the entrance. Planter boxes lead from outside to the foot of the desk.
The children's area is enclosed in a white volume that is entered through a house-shaped arch. A circular orange window on one of its corners echoes the design in the wider clinic, where spots are used as subtle branding.
Behind the reception desk is a wall panel dotted with pastel orange, bright blue and mottled green. These colours recur throughout the space, which is otherwise dominated by white and warm wood surfaces and furnishings.
Glass becomes a feature in the clinic area itself, lining the corridor that leads to separate treatment areas. These rooms are numbered by oversized digits painted on the floor, so patients can easily find where they are going.
Architects and designers have previously attempted to create more friendly dental clinics that would ease patients' fear. Germain Canon and Li Mengshu gave a dental clinic in Taiwan a more domestic feel using soft furnishings.
Meanwhile, Casey Vallance of Cox Rayner Architects used natural materials to create a calming environment for an Australian oral health eduction facility, aiming to address the high stress levels reported in the profession.