By Danny Chan
Due to Prosthodontic Group’s busy downtown location, there were stringent building security regulations to contend with. For example, loading and unloading of construction materials were only allowed outside normal work hours. In order to minimize down time, fitout work on the entire 8th floor had to be carried out in phases. This meant that transportation of equipment and furniture, from the 12th to the 8th floor, followed every stage of completion.
To manage this complex and potentially cumbersome project, the partners turned to fitout specialist, Dentec. The Geelong-based company had been instrumental in building Dr Wylie’s other practice, Southern Dental. Having displayed a high level of professionalism while delivering quality finishes at the work’s end, the Dentec team left such a good impression, Dr Wylie knew they would be perfect for the job.
Says Dr Wylie: “We were happy to engage their services again, having witnessed their competence – fast turnaround time, sense of responsibility and commitment to customers.”
So impressed with Dentec’s work on Southern Dental, the dentists wanted to emulate the same sophisticated design for Prosthodontic Group.
Hayden Earl, Design and Fitout Manager for Dentec, elaborates: “Although the client wanted us to model the look and feel after Southern Dental’s, we wanted to inject a bit of freshness into the existing design, without compromising on the request.”
Working Day and Night
From the get go, the main challenge of the job lies in planning and coordination. After all, Dentec was tasked to construct from ground up, a brand new practice occupying three suites of an entire floor, while the practice remains operational throughout the transitional phases of moving from level 12 to 8. The extensive project involves the setting up of four surgeries, four offices, staff room, reception-cum-waiting area, sterilization, store, plant room and a lab.
While ensuring minimal disruption to adjoining tenancies, construction work must also consider security measures imposed on buildings located within high volume traffic areas of the CBD.
A Dentec personnel elaborates on the compliance issues: “To meet these regulations, we carried out much of the work before and after hours. We had to consider the access and loading times for all trades and manage the schedule around such issues. Cleanliness had to be maintained at all times, while ensuring building debris was not transported any further than the project site.
“Plumbing and power supply for the dental units and other equipment had to be installed above ground and carefully concealed with purpose-made stainless steel covers. To avoid disturbing other tenants, noisy work like drilling and hammering were done only after hours. These are just some of the location-specific hassles that we needed to work around.”
Commenting on more visceral requirements specific to the practice, Jo Willis, Practice Manager, Prosthodontic Group, says: “We value both patient and staff comfort very highly. We wanted to provide them open space, privacy, comfortable seats and a great overall environment. In order to accommodate future growth in patients and staff, we also looked into building additional storage spaces and work benches, as well as a central steri and lab area. “
As for equipment, Jo says the challenge for the new surgery is “to go as digital as possible”. All the surgeries are to be fitted with digital x-ray units, along with two monitors – one chairside, and the other mounted on dental chair for operator and patient use. Within easy access are the support equipment which include two compressors, two suction units, an amalgam separator and two melag autoclaves. Two Kavo chairs are to be installed in addition to two existing Kavo units from the original practice site.
Besides coordinating the entire fit-out, Dentec was placed in charge of pretty much everything else – from initial layout and design of floor plan to managing the building process, which responsibilities cover plumbing, electrical wiring and cabinetry.
Hayden adds: “Although we had our work cut out for us in terms of complying with building regulations and the complexities of dealing with it, we were very much focused on the job at hand. To us, the real challenge has always been about giving the customer a great working environment that is both functionally and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.”
The Look of a Downtown Practice
Virtue of its location alone, The Prosthodontic Group caters to an upmarket clientele – mostly made up of city dwelling professionals, known for their bourgeois tastes and extravagance. It was therefore imperative that design and layout of the new premises conform to the high standards one would associate with a downtown practice.
Eschewing affectations of grandeur and sophistication, the Dentec designers went for an understated yet classy look.
At first glance, the reception area’s warm lighting and minimalist décor resembles that of a beauty spa. Borrowing the cocoa-neutral-white color scheme from Southern Dental, the earthy tones render a soothing atmosphere reminiscent of a Balinese-style parlor. Patient records neatly organized in a giant wall-mounted shelf provide a unique backdrop to the front counter, while color-coded cards add a dash of vibrancy to the display.
The waiting area is cozy in ambience but never wanting in space. Individual chairs allow personal space with a good half arm’s length in between. Generous walkways ensure passerby traffic do not intrude on magazine-browsers as they wait for their names to be called.
The brightly lit corridor is broad and spacious, while offering vantage views of the surgery rooms via clear glass windows. Embossed room numbers formed by dots add a stylized feel to the otherwise staid looking entrances.
The first thing you notice upon entering the surgery is the wide window that capitalizes on the location’s city backdrop. As natural lights fill the room, the sense of openness provides instant relief for claustrophobic patients. The black vinyl flooring accentuates the restful atmosphere.
Matching white-and-brown cabinets hug the walls with L- and U-shaped designs, custom fit to the room structure. Both the steri room and lab maximize the wall spaces with unique storage space designs. The wall-clinging enclosures keep the benchtops free of clutter; dedicated for autoclave units as well as washing and bin areas. Central to design and layout, the cabinets perform a dual role of functionality and aesthetics, blending with the overall color theme while maintaining a clean and spacious environment.
In the end, it takes more than clever designs and customized furniture to build a dental surgery. Ultimately, Dentec’s keen knowledge of a dental surgery – and its inner workings – remains its forte as a fitout and equipment supply partner to so many dental practices.
“It boils down to experience”, says Hayden, “everything from the custom-fit cabinet designs right down to choice of materials and equipment, it is important that we understand the rugged demands of a busy practice and cater to these demands accordingly.”
Tick all the boxes
Of course, experience played a major role in making sure that while it was business as usual for the practice, Dentec tradesmen worked tirelessly behind the scenes to accomplish the project on time and schedule.
Jo enthuses: “As both the practice partners were extremely busy, I was the second coordinator whenever Dentec needed to speak to someone. Throughout the entire process, I found them highly effective and communicative, often updating us on the project thus far.
“When it comes to their coordination work involved with all facets of the installation and building process, I rate Dentec very highly.”
Meanwhile, patient feedback has also been appreciative, as Jo reports:
“Patients comment quite regularly on the comfortable atmosphere, that the décor is not over the top or too flashy. They like that it is simple and classy – which was exactly what we were aiming for. The staff too enjoy the extra space and modern touches.”
Proud of his team and the consistent praise he receives from customers, Hayden remarks: “I believe it comes down to our work ethics and good attitude.
“We have a systematic but flexible way of working. Although we make it a point to tick all the boxes, we are always prepared to add one more – for an unforeseen problem that arises due to the nature of the construction business.”