Designed to look warm, calm and welcoming, two Hobart practices are turning heads and winning clients. By Kerryn Ramsey
These days, inventive design is turning dental practices from white, clinical spaces into warm, inviting practices. Materials and colours are used to set the tone while casual furniture and integrated fittings complete the look. Two practices in Hobart—Kingston Beach Dental and Dental Pod—are perfect examples of this new thoughtful design.
Kingston Beach Dental
In 2007, Dr Martyn Sweet and his business manager wife, Felicity Sweet, purchased the original Kingston Beach Dental, situated next to the beach with water views. They soon outgrew the two-chair practice but were unable to expand due to layout restrictions. Desperately in need of more space and more surgeries, they decided to rent a site that met or exceeded all their requirements.
“The site of our present practice ticked all the boxes,” says Dr Sweet. “It’s part of, but separate from, Channel Court Shopping Centre and close to pharmacies and schools. There’s excellent accessibility and plenty of parking. We have a long lease on the premises and we’re comfortable with that.”
With a blank canvas to build their dream practice, the Sweets turned to Drew Edwards, director at BYA Architects. Dr Sweet knew exactly what he wanted in the surgeries and Edwards put everything together.
“Our original practice had stunning beach views and Drew instilled the new practice with a relaxed beach feel,” says Felicity. “He put in the vaulted ceiling so when you look down the spine of the building, there’s a peaked roof and lots of skylights. It’s really light and airy.”
The design maintains a sense of calm and privacy in a relaxed environment by linking three distinct zones—clinical, administrative and public—with natural light and views.
“By adding new windows to one side and a row of skylights centrally we had enough light and outside views from each zone,” says Edwards. “The central sterilisation and administrative zone is defined and housed in a strong but simple gable roof form that allowed us to break the flat ceiling and connect the skylight in an expected way. As an architectural element reminiscent of a shack, we were able to use it as a connection, focus, divider, or a way of screening and entering into a new zone. Light natural tones and weathered timber add to this.”
The practice keeps things simple but comfortable and cosy. The patient lounge is spacious so there’s plenty of room for kids, prams, patients and parents. It’s separated from the surgeries so there are no fear triggers. The comfortable furniture, warm timbers and modern design aesthetic is the opposite of a white clinical space.
“The non-clinical feel sets this dental practice apart from others,” says Edwards. “The usual dental noises and smells are carefully screened from customers sitting in the relaxed waiting area.”
Edwards was not only the architect of the practice but the project manager—something that Dr Sweet appreciates greatly. “Everything went very smoothly, and the results are fantastic,” he says. “Nearly every patient compliments us and comments on the relaxed look and calm feel of the practice.”
Felicity couldn’t be happier. “The flow of the space and how people move through the practice works really well. After the limitations of our old practice, it’s wonderful to have a comfortable space for patients and staff.”
Situated in the heart of Hobart and just a short walk from Salamanca Market, Dental Pod has been owned and run by Dr Matthew Clougher since 2019. The previous owners, Dr Dirk Jacobsen and his wife Laura, commissioned Morrison & Breytenbach Architects to create a light, airy practice in a relatively small inner-city space in 2015.
“The brief from the Jacobsens was very specific,” says architect Yvette Breytenbach, whose business designed the practice premises. “They wanted the fit-out to support the health and wellbeing of patients and staff. They also wanted high visibility from the street, a bespoke interior, views out while retaining privacy and an optimal use of the available space.”
Breytenbach had the tenancy stripped back to the original envelope so the newly designed practice could be built from scratch. The waiting room utilises natural light and timber along with translucent privacy decals to cut out traffic and pedestrian movement. This creates a space that’s calm and welcoming yet still professional.
“The reception area has subtle prompts and a clear spatial layout with easy indicators of how patients should use the space,” says Breytenbach. “Additionally, natural timber and light convey an environmentally conscious practice.”
The current owner, Dr Clougher, looked at many practices before purchasing Dental Pod. It appealed to him immediately. “It was beautifully designed with no wastage of space,” he says. “I really enjoy the waiting room and reception area. The curves soften the space while the timber evokes a real warmth. The waiting and reception floors are polished concrete with a clear sealant that shows its stone aggregate and small imperfections from past interiors. It’s a raw working surface that doesn’t make the space feel too precious.”
Breytenbach’s minimalist design reduced clutter and opened the views on the diagonal and across the street to create a sense of spaciousness. In fact, when it’s quiet, Dr Clougher likes to take a moment to enjoy an unusual aspect.
“From one part of the waiting room, there’s a beautiful view of Mt Wellington in reflection from the adjacent building,” he says. “From a purely practical perspective, I also like the fact that all the suction and compressor units are under the floor in the building basement below 10 centimetres of concrete—it’s quiet, discrete and hygienic. It’s a well thought-out, efficiently designed space.”