The corrections

Maples Chiropractic in Winnipeg is a “maximized living” clinic that takes a drug-free, holistic approach. Along with on-site spinal correction, it offers at-home spinal-care exercises, nutritional recommendations, workshops and more. The clinic recently moved to a location that seems ill suited to house a “temple of wellness”: a nondescript, one-storey strip mall in Winnipeg’s suburban Maples neighbourhood.

Enter 5468796 Architecture, hired by the design-conscious owner to work more than a little magic. The talented 13-member firm was confronted with a typical long rectangular box, with windows on the short, front end only, overlooking a parking lot. Johanna Hurme, who founded 5468796 in 2007 with Sasa Radulovic, outlines a further challenge: “The actual chiropractic treatment differs drastically from others we have encountered, with the actual adjustment taking place in a group setting, which allows the owner to treat a large volume of patients in a very short time frame.”  

The finished project has backbone, both literally and figuratively. The major design element is a sturdy “spine” spanning the length of the clinic, housing a number of functions; it’s rendered in standard dimensional lumber (spruce), “to keep a sense of honesty and authenticity,” says Hurme. Private treatment rooms are organized along one side of the spine, with reception and adjustments along the other; a staff room and utility spaces are housed at the back of the facility. 

Throughout, pale wood lends warmth and comfort. As for light, “The spine and corridors are organized perpendicular to the natural light source to draw light deep into the space,” says Hurme, ”and the shell of the space was ‘whitewashed’ to maximize light reflection.”

Clinic clients simply go with the flow. They move through the space to reception and intake, then most often onto the bleachers to wait for their turn on the beds or at vibe stations (vibrating platforms). Adjustment is over in a matter of minutes. They then circle around the spine and exit past the appointment-rebooking counter.  

Both client and designers are pleased with the final project. ”In the end, the timber monolith was quite economical and provided the ‘softness’ that would otherwise have to be achieved through ornamentation or appliqué,” says Radulovic. “It provides enough formal and textural interest, and becomes a true anchor for the space and design.”  •