By Danny Chan
When Drs Kate Burgess and Nicholas Boardman decided to turn a 40s-era building – last refurbished in the 80s but still fraught with structural issues – into a sleek modern Specialist Clinic, they knew nothing less than an experienced healthcare design and fit out team would be up to the task.
Based on strong recommendations by several other Specialist Periodontists in Victoria who had used their services for their own practice builds, the pair selected Levitch Design Australia. As well as having good track record for quality work and fast turnaround, LDA’s wealth of experience in dental-specific renovations weighed in their favour.
“We employed their services because they provide a complete design-and-build package. This enabled us to continue working full time without having to be onsite,” Dr Burgess affirms.
Citing cautionary tales of delayed building projects (by up to 12 months) due to late council approvals, the Periodontists were grateful for LDA fast tracking the process:
“(The Levitch team) had extensive knowledge as to what was required to comply with council regulations and permits in order to streamline this side of the process. We found that they made the council approval process simple and easy for us to understand and it was very efficient and quick.”
Levitch’s ability to flesh out the client’s design aspirations didn’t go unnoticed either. For the clinic’s look and feel, Nick and Kate wanted to incorporate design elements that retain a piece of the location’s rich history in industrial building and manufacturing. At the same time, they wanted to create a soothing environment (not too clinical or intimidating) in which nervous and phobic patients would feel relaxed.
Located in Newport, Victoria, Perio One offers Specialist Periodontics and Dental Implant services in a modern, light-filled environment. What makes the contemporary design of the newly renovated surgery stand out is the studied merger of art and ambience.
The physical translation of ideas becomes apparent even as you approach the front desk. A wall of avant-garde artwork and matching displays take centre stage in an otherwise laid-back reception area. Chalkboard grey back walls teamed with birch timber planks in the foreground – doubling as the counter’s cladding strips as well as display rack shelves – cleverly simulate a cafe-like environment.
Basking under soft lights in a designer chair, you notice something different about this clinic. A design motif here, a rustic magazine rack there and soon enough, the concomitant track of ideas starts to take shape. Indeed, an industrial theme paying homage to the region’s landmarks – including Newport workshop (that built the first train carriages in the 1880s); Newport Lakes; Williamstown docks, etc. – runs through the 125-sqm, two-chair surgery.
Hanging proudly on the walls are original early-1900s photos capturing the Newport workshop in its locomotive heyday. The whimsical decor continues artful depictions of the Williamstown docks and the Bluestone Quarry, the original name before it became known as Newport Lakes. Of the photographic displays, the most awe-inspiring has to be the giant picture frames along the corridor. For size reference, let’s just say that each blown-up photograph – of train buildings, locomotives and power plants – takes up an entire wall panel! As the perfect foil to character-filled walls, concrete-like floor vinyls decidedly notch up the industrial aesthetics.
More than just nostalgia, Kate explains the rationale behind the theme: “A significant proportion of our patients are older, many having lived their whole lives in the area. They have seen the area change from working class docks and railway manufacturing hub to the multicultural area it is now.”
“This is our way of acknowledging the contributions of the region’s senior generation and retaining a bit of history.”
While evoking sentimental memories, Kate, Nick and LDA did not neglect to bring out the modern and efficient traits of Perio One.
The clinic also has a sizeable following of young families. The sleek cafe-style decor, Kate reveals, is targeted at this urbanised demographic.
“Although the area has an older population, in recent years younger families have been moving in due to the convenience of Newport's position,” Kate explains, “Patients often comment on the reception experience. The idea of having a cafe style feel fits well in the small shopping strip in which we are situated and certainly helps to put the patient at ease.”
In terms of balancing ambience and workflow, Levitch’s well-conceived layout bears out the exacting nature of dental-oriented renovations. The use of frosted glass enabling a light-filled environment, not only sets the alfresco mood at the front “cafe” counter, it greatly reduces the claustrophobic fears of some nervous patients. Similarly the surgery rooms come across as airy and inviting spaces, thanks to frosted glass doors and windows that let in the natural light without compromising privacy.
Walking through this modern and spacious clinic, notwithstanding aesthetically pleasing hints of the past, it’s hard to imagine that this WW2-era skeletal construction once housed a solid-brick barbershop and rickety weatherboard extensions. The total facelift is as astounding as it was challenging.
Due to poorly planned, tacked-on renovations over the years that masked rather than solve construction inconsistencies, the original building had issues with irregular floor heights and subsidence of a shared wall. Ever the solution provider, the Levitch builders erected an entirely new foundation and supporting wall before converting the space into the rectangular-shaped building it is now. This space overhaul decidedly frees up the imagination of the interior designer, who then worked on breathing life into the bare bone structure.
Considering the scope of their involvement, it is remarkable that actual build phase took just 12 weeks. Crediting the fast turnaround to Levitch’s excellent work rate and ethics, Dr Boardman praises:
“Although choosing a design and fit out company comes at a premium, utilising a company with experience streamlines the process. Knowing the ins and outs of regulations simplified the progression from idea to opening the door for our first patient.”
“Levitch allowed us to concentrate on work without having to take time off to micromanage the build. With no experience in design or practice fit out, the learning curve was steep, but Levitch were there to help navigate the process.”