A focus on health
Perkins & Will
Nemo Tile, Stone Source
Modern healthcare facilities are becoming increasingly friendly, comfortable spaces inspired by the latest trends in interior design. This is particularly evident in the numerous clinics, many of which belong to large hospital groups, that have been opening in city centres in recent years to make their services more accessible to an expanding user base of public and private patients. Stepping into a clinic for a blood test or a consultation is becoming an increasingly relaxed and friendly experience, a far cry from the cold, aseptic spaces of the hospitals of the past. Patients are greeted by lounge areas, coffee shops, informal registration desks, waiting rooms with children’s play areas and care facilities for the elderly.
This trend is taking hold in all the world’s large cities, and is particularly evident in the NYC Healthcare Clinic in Midtown Manhattan.
«When one of New York’s top university hospitals decided to build an outpatient clinic in downtown Manhattan, the primary aim was to offer a wide range of services in a place with a high population density and numerous offices,» says Brooke Horan, lead designer for the project at Perkins & Will, an American practice with offices located throughout the USA as well as in London, Denmark, Sao Paulo (Brazil), Canada and Shanghai. This mission led to the purchase of a 25-floor, 22,400 square metre centrally-located former office building that proved ideal for its purpose. «We wanted to create brightly lit, welcoming spaces where natural light would be able to penetrate even to areas that are a long way from the entrances as well as to the underground areas where we planned to house the MRI rooms, the laboratories and the operating rooms,» says Horan. «We achieved this by exploiting the transparency of the envelope, which allowed us to offer surprising and unusual views onto the city.»
The clinic offers a wide range of outpatient facilities and enjoys an excellent reputation for the quality of its services. «It was imperative to create distinctive spaces that would reflect the uniqueness of the institution,» continues Broke Horan. The spaces are articulated and engaging, with a precise and differentiated layout combined with very high aesthetic quality achieved through a meticulous choice of surfaces and the use of warm colours.
Winner of the Institutional category of the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition 2020 organised by Confindustria Ceramica during the twenty-seventh Coverings, the project was praised in particular for its original use of Laminam panels and Saime Ceramiche stone effect slabs.
«Italian porcelain tiles were seen as overwhelmingly superior to other solutions,» continues the lead designer of the NYC Healthcare Clinic. «The project team developed a fairly unique application for porcelain tile on the feature wall that greets the public as they enter each of the twenty-five floors of the building. The patterning and articulation of the wall are a nod to the surrounding Midtown Manhattan neighbourhood, while the play of light on the facades is recreated through the tectonic nature of the Laminam tiles.» The tile was also used in light niches. The architects wanted to choose a material with exceptional consistency, reflective quality and durability suitable for a space that received large numbers of visitors every day.
Grey stone effect tiles from Saime Ceramiche were specified for the lobby floor as they are a hygienic, high-performance solution particularly suited to high-traffic areas.
The choice of ceramic tile was also dictated by the need to specify a material that would be easy to sanitise, non-toxic and sustainable. «In addition to non-toxicity, risk assessments were also conducted with regard to climate change and the resilience of the materials. Here too porcelain seemed to us the most appropriate choice,» concludes Broke Horan.