Hôpital Vétérinaire du Parc

Hôpital Vétérinaire du Parc by Thomas Balaban Architect (TBA) squeezes a state of the art veterinarian hospital within 2 floors of a small abandoned photo studio. Redefining the veterinary experience for Montréal’s Mile End neighbourhood, the storefront space and dark basement are brought to life with a calming minimal palette juxtaposed against raw existing surfaces and generous glazed partitions.

Photo Credit: Adrien Williams

Utilitarian materials work within the neighbourhood and the specific needs of a veterinary clinic. Stone foundations, concrete wainscoting and ceramic tiling protect the lower part of the walls required to be resistant to animal wear and tear, whereas milky polycarbonate ceiling panels hide a complex mechanical system revealing only modest graphic lighting.

Technical spaces are efficiently organized around a central circulation spine, allowing for a spacious reception where animals and owners alike can circulate freely. Friendly custom furniture in Corian and orchestrated glimpses seek to ease anxiety and subvert traditional doctor/client/patient formality.

Designing for Animals

Photo Credit: Adrien Williams

There are many practical considerations when designing a space that focuses on pet wellness, such as using materials resistant to animal wear and tear, avoiding ledges and nooks, and hard to reach corners, or providing shallow stairs and landings for older animals who have mobility problems. Soundproofing is very important, as is the fine-tuning of lighting levels and air circulation. Other elements become more about the connection between animal and human – playing with quantities of glazing to maintain or block views in the different kennels and treatment rooms.

Unifying Lighting

The main source of lighting in the common spaces of the hospital is designed to be minimal and soft. TBA wanted it to act as a unifying graphic element so the team chose to place a diagonal grid of standard strip lights behind milky polycarbonate panels.

The effect is a consistent foggy glow that is bright enough to light the large open spaces. This hides mechanical equipment and allows you to focus on the hanging fixtures. In the corridors, TBA added linear lighting along handrails and beside doors so as to keep unflattering overhead lighting to a minimum.

Function and Informality

The hospital’s interior was conceived as a functional, informal and calming space with elements that subvert traditional doctor/client/patient formality. Downstairs, the hospital spaces are organised in series, in line with the way the veterinarians operate.

On the ground floor, clinical spaces are efficiently organized around a central circulation spine to allow for a spacious reception where animals and owners alike can circulate freely. A glazed cut-out connects the grooming area in the basement to the public areas above, easing some of anxiety that comes with visiting a hospital by providing a few distracting, playful moments.

Likewise, the front desk was designed to be fun, friendly and informal (doctor, client and patient can stand side-by-side, instead of face to face). Because the façade is completely glazed, the reception feels like it is part of the street. Moreover, the hospital is open until midnight so it always feels like it is an active part of the Mile End streetscape.