Just What The Doctor Ordered
Mairi Beautyman -- Interior Design, 11/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
For a doctor's office, what motif could be more natural than the unadorned human body? So, at orthopedist Matthias Finkelstein's holistic treatment center in Berlin, the namesake principal of Mateja Mikulandra-Mackat covered the reception desk and an adjacent wall—a 260-foot-wide expanse—in enlarged black-and-white prints of a male nude. The subject, in a squatting position, signifies the agility that Finkelstein's bone and joint patients are striving for.
Besides emblazoning the face of the reception desk with images of the human form, the architect says she took additional cues from "movement and posture" in shaping the desk like a spinal column. The front curves slightly in, then out, before it wraps around to merge with the wall of the corridor. Overhead, a canopy in the same oak as the desk's counter follows a similarly serpentine path along a ceiling cutout lit by fluorescents.
Knowledgeable about health care from projects at her previous firm, Mikulandra-Mackat was excited when Finkelstein approached her to design a space that's definitely not what he calls "clinical white." Graduated shades of peach line the corridor, its progression marked by floor-to-ceiling fluorescent strips.
In the separate waiting lounge—at the base of the office's L-shape 1,600-square-foot plan—one wall clad in chocolate-brown plastic laminate and another painted apricot represent lessons the architect learned from Man Color Space, a book on the effects of color and light on human psychology. (Brown creates an enveloping mood; light orange encourages communication.) Pumpkin-orange leather covers the curved seats of Patricia Urquiola stools at the coffee bar and chairs at the café tables.
At the other end of the spectrum, the patient restroom is awash in cool tones. Blue, white, and dark brown glass mosaic tile clads the walls, while the floor's vinyl tile shimmers light blue. A floating oak vanity is anchored along a sidewall, and the Philippe Starck toilet is hidden behind a door of etched glass—a translucent material that Mikulandra-Mackat used several times to let light into the ground-floor space.
Breezy celadon drapery lets the sun shine into the two consulting rooms, where a gentle apple green covers the walls and the Urquiola chairs. Picking up on the springy atmosphere, a 7-by-10-foot print of cherry trees in full bloom glows against a light box installed opposite the windows. The wengé parquet—a switch from the joint-friendly resin that appears in most of the facility—provides a dark, earthy contrast, as does the oak of the desk and integral bookshelf.
The four treatment rooms are painted in varying intensities of orange. "Saturation correlates to the duration of the stay," says Mikulandra-Mackat. "A short-term patient gets a stronger color, whereas patients facing a long therapy are assigned a room with less intense color, to calm."