It doesn’t get much better than plying your trade so close to famous beaches in the idyllic town of Torquay. The surfing capital of Australia is known as the first of many renowned tourist attractions dotted along the Great Ocean Road.
That Dr Chris Van Ryswyk, owner and principal dentist of Surfside Dental, would want to capture the spirit of Torquay in the design of his new dental surgery, is not surprising. It is the way in which the surgery’s colours and composition reflect the subtler characteristics of its surrounds that makes it invigoratingly fresh.
Located a relaxing stroll from the water’s edge, nestled among fresh-brewing coffee houses and a quaint selection of eateries, Surfside Dental may at first seem anomalous in the neighbourbood. Yet its role, as one of a handlful of dental clinics serving the small township and its outlying regions, is significant.
Torquay’s roughly 7,000 seaside residents find a modern option in the family dental clinic. Surfside Dental delivers an expanding range of services covering general dentistry and cutting edge cosmetic treatments. And thanks to Optima Healthcare Group, a design and construction firm specialising in dental and healthcare establishments, Dr Van Ryswyk’s outfit looks every inch as avant-garde as its city-dwelling counterparts.
Up to speed
It was the highly accessible location, boasting excellent exposure and ample parking, that piqued Dr Van Ryswyk’s interest. Then working for a large Geelong practice, the experienced dental practitioner enlisted Optima’s help to survey the property.
“I found (Optima Health Care Group) on Google,” Dr Van Ryswyk recalls. “Their head office was local and they talked my game. I was actually in contact with them a year earlier with a similar idea.
“Although I was not ready to follow through the process at that stage, they were understanding and left a good impression.”
As soon as the site was secured in September of 2013, the Optima team was put in charge of the renovation with a year-end deadline to meet. The team had essentially less than four months for the complex undertaking – which included planning, demolition, fitout, equipment supply, installation, and stock ordering.
Blown away by the team’s proactiveness and speed, Dr Van Ryswyk remarks with an incredulous tone:
“From the time we checked out the property, it took only five days for (Optima HCG) to present me with their initial concepts.
The Optima team was equally efficient at final delivery, says the dentist.
“The property was vacated by the previous tenant end of October and Optima quickly jumped in to do the demolition work. I actually got to see my first patients on Tuesday 17 December!”
The stringent deadline wasn’t the only challenge the builders had to overcome. First, the surgery was located on the first level with limited access. Compounding the time shortage, they had to work outside regular business hours to avoid disturbing shop owners operating below the unit. It didn’t help too that Christmas was around the corner, which meant deadlines for ordering materials were tighter than usual.
“Still,” says Rochelle McGarry, Design Consultant at Optima HG, “we knew Chris wanted the practice up and running by December to make the most of the year-end season.
“We were delighted to meet the deadline, which represented significant cost savings in Chris’s time as he was able to launch before his rent-free period ended.”
Optima managed to deliver the goods while ticking all the boxes on Dr Van Ryswyk’s wish list.
“The clinic had to be open, with clean uncluttered lines,” says the dentist of his original design and layout objectives.
“I wanted an inviting modern feel, that would still fit into a seaside town. The property has large windows which I wanted to utilise to remove that common “claustrophobic” feeling you get in most surgeries.”
The results were, in many ways, impeccably fitting. The large floor-to-ceiling windows work a treat as Dr Ryswyk had envisioned. From the reception area to the surgery rooms, natural light evenly fills the interiors without direct glares or hard shadows.
The white walls and neutral tones of grey – used for most of the wall-hugging cabinetry – make the perfect foil to lime green splashbacks and chair upholstery. If the effervescent green calls to mind neon-clad surfers, the grey tones capture the earthy riches of nature that abound in picturesque Torquay. Sand-coloured floorboards complete the beachside effect with a single wave, part of the logo signage, emblazoned across the reception wall.
The elegant yet spartan feel of the surgery makes for unique interpretation of the seaside township; its tranquil charms brought to life by combining a space-efficient layout with zen-like furnishings.
As meaningful as the aesthetics were the practical considerations. Dr Ryswyk knew that he would initially be running the practice with an assistant, and wanted the design and layout to accommodate the ergonomics of a solo outfit – while still allowing for expansion.
Affording visibility and movement between the reception and surgery areas, the layout meets the transitional plans of the dentist, even as the multiple surgery set-up and fully furnished sterilization area promise space for a bigger team. Meanwhile, the elegant Heka dental chairs and NSK handpieces, part of an expandable equipment package put together by Optima, run along with the future-proof concept.
While Optima probably wasn’t the most affordable option, Dr Ryswyk says the quality and value of the renovation was what impressed him.
“They deliver quality – and they deliver in a very tight timeline – while functioning extremely well under pressure. The team at Optima held my confidence throughout the entire project.”
Having already referred dental colleagues and clients to the design and construction firm, Dr Van Ryswyk could scarcely hide his satisfaction:
“Most of my patients have paid compliments to the open, clean and friendly atmosphere in the clinic,” he enthuses, before adding with a winning smile:
“That is exactly what I wanted to achieve with the design.”