Raspberry red indoor playground: Children’s Medical Practice in Vienna
Photo: Lukas Schaller
Religious pilgrimage trail, entertainment mile and the route used by the emerging tourist trade at the end of the 18th century, the Hernalser Hauptstraße is a street with a very lively background and history. Today it is above all a much-travelled gateway from the west that marks a gaping hole in Vienna’s underground network. The new U 5 underground line to the city centre will provide relief but won’t be completed until 2024 at the earliest.
Until recently the rooms of a children’s medical practice located near the city’s Elterleinplatz on the first floor of a dilapidated residential building dating back to the mid-19th century were only slightly less frequented. An increase in patient numbers and a big number of large families meant the space available had become increasingly unsatisfactory. The front door being constantly opened and closed and the prams left in the hall throughout the day had also become a burden for the building’s other tenants.
The practice operator decided to relocate the surgery to the ground floor. Architect Maki Ortner converted two previously separate shops into a variety of spaces including five treatment rooms and a generous barrier-free entrance and waiting area with raspberry-red interiors that are visible and glow from the street.
The new entrance is now located on the corner of the building and an open-topped glass vestibule helps to warm up the air before it reaches the indoor space. Instead of a waiting room there are three seating elements lined up between the black painted reveals of each ceiling-high display window. The extra-high backrests of the wooden benches designed by architect Maki Ortner provide a privacy screen from the activity of the street without blocking views of the surrounding house facades. The backrests can be folded forwards for cleaning purposes.
The main eye-catcher in the space is a 9 x 5 m large expansive piece of furniture made out of MDF that divides the room into zones and is both a reception desk and an indoor playground. Different levels and a cavernous niche with a ramp transform what could be a boring visit to the doctor into a tactile adventure. What’s more, the Baker-Miller Pink colour scheme is said to have a calming effect in stressful situations.
Structural engineer: Fröhlich & Locher und Partner, Wien, flw.at