AK Clinic Room: Put on a Happy Face

A single treatment room serves as a testing ground for spatial experimentation.

Debating the nature of beauty has preoccupied humans since time immemorial. Different thinkers from different disciplines have differing opinions, but perhaps it is no surprise that when it comes to our own body, designers see beauty as symmetrical, balanced, and ordered. This was certainly the case for Atelier RZLBD when tackling their smallest intervention project to date. The AK Clinic Room is “a spatial experimentation of these values,” says Reza Aliabadi, principal of Atelier RZLBD, referring to the conversion of a typical treatment room in a skin care clinic in Brampton, Ont. with an tiny 60-sq.-ft. footprint into one “that transcends its physical boundary and inspires a deeper sense of well-being.”

Taking the idea of “care” beyond clinical service, the room is composed of two symmetrical “hands” coming together from above and below, embracing the body. A ceiling of natural knotty pine and a floor of glossy-finish porcelain tiles (supplied by Olympia Tile) meet on the walls at a ribbon mirror in the middle. The wood (supplied by Central Fairbank Lumber) was left in a natural state in order to maximize the wood aroma in the exam room, providing haptic qualities in addition to its visual appeal. Everything else in the room is either white or black to be visually unobtrusive.

A dark entry foyer separates this “pilot” room from the rest of the clinic, which includes a waiting area with reception, a pharmacy, various support rooms and seven other enclosed exam rooms. Upon entering, the bright main room is reoriented along a new axis “and unfolds like a small universe in which everything is perfectly symmetrical,” says Aliabadi, referring to both horizontal (by the one-point perspective in the centre, both from and towards the “gate” or door) and vertical (by the zenithal relationship between the central seating and the rectangular light above, carved into the ceiling) axes.

The AK Clinic Room “offers a ritual in which the very act of entering and inhabiting the space brings a profound inner change,” says Aliabadi, and it appears the owner of the clinic (a previous client Aliabadi worked with on a residential project) not only agrees but is planning to expand this experiment, first to the rest of the clinic and then into new branches.

Photography by Borzu Talaie