Clinique D diaphane

To meet the needs of clients who deal with eczema, psoriasis, hives and other skin conditions linked to stress, a dermatology clinic in Laval welcomes patients in a comforting atmosphere.

Dr. Danielle Brassard’s vision for the space is unlike the model of traditional medical clinics, which are often gloomy places where the comfort and well-being of the patients and professionals are relegated to the sidelines in favour of technical requirements. To turn her vision into reality, Dr. Brassard contacted Laurent McComber from the architectural firm L. McComber.

Reception desk. Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau
Reception desk. Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau

Light, a critical ingredient of many dermatological treatments, is the starting point from which the project evolves. Despite its large windows facing east onto Avenir Boulevard and south onto the Montmorency metro station parking lot, the former paediatric clinic that occupied this space was dark and uninspiring. The position of the waiting room in the centre, with windowless examination rooms surrounding it, shut clients off from the outside world and its views and natural light. To make the most of the large openings, the entire office was transformed into an open-plan space with translucent elements serving different functions within the clinic, letting the abundant natural light filter in all around. The ceiling, covered wall to wall in acoustic tiles, was exposed to make the area feel more spacious.

PhotoWaiting room. Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau credit: Raphaël Thibodeau
Waiting room. Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau

The six examination rooms, featuring frosted glass ceilings, form a long white wall punctuated by six high wooden doors. With its imposing opalescent glass wall and lowered ceiling, the relaxation room for the clinic’s professionals looks like a glowing cube. Light therapy machines sit imposingly in the centre, behind reception. The curved translucent glass walls that encapsulate them give away their function, as they emit an entrancing purple light when in operation. A long, solid ash reception desk wraps around this central core, with an entrance on either end: dermatology (main entrance) and light therapy (secondary entrance).

In addition to being a welcoming and comforting place for patients, the clinic must meet the needs of its staff, who spend long hours working inside its walls. It must be efficient in the way it is organized and pleasant in the way it is laid out. To achieve this, the clinic’s professionals must be able to move between the common areas, offices and examination rooms out of sight of the public. By moving the consultation rooms away from the exterior wall, a long service corridor was freed up for staff to move around in. Computer workstations are mounted on walls for medical staff to consult records before or after seeing their patients, without blocking this strategic passageway.

Wall mounted work station. Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau
Wall mounted work station. Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau

To supplement the natural light, hanging Wi-Fi LED bulbs can be programmed to the desired intensity and colour for each zone. Installed 8’-0” high, they offer users maximum energy-efficient brightness, without being too blinding. Strips of recessed LED lights highlight the large wood overhang above the desk and the whole of the waiting room. The same type of recessed lighting lines the reception desk to light up the work surfaces for staff.

Lastly, each examination room has light flooding from a variety of LED sources, producing a very expansive but highly efficient spectrum: in panels behind the glass ceiling, in inset linear strips along the same ceiling, and in the form of a built-in light fixture above the exam table and a directional Wi-Fi bulb on an adjustable arm beside the patient. The glass ceiling and doors to the service corridor complete the layout with diffused natural light. The intense brightness of the space lends itself well to greater precision in the visual examination of patients.

All of the signage was designed in collaboration with graphic designer Atelier Chinotto. Stylized but universal at the same time, it consists of a mix of custom-designed logos (phone, washrooms, charging stations) and more specific descriptors for each room (1, 2, 3, A, B, C, Dr. Danielle Brassard, lunchroom, etc.). The lettering consists of cut-outs from light grey vinyl against the white background of the walls. For the concrete floor, however, the lettering is painted white right on the grey surface.

Project name: Clinique D diaphane
Location: Laval, Quebec (Canada)
Client: Danielle Brassard and Cynthia Migneault
Architect/designer: L. McComber ltée
Design team: David Grenier, Laurent McComber
Graphic design: Atelier Chinotto
Lighting design: Richporter Lighting, Éclairage
General contractor: Brago Construction
Photo credit: Raphaël Thibodeau
Project end date: April 2015
Budget: $450,000
Area: 2 950 ft2