The Edgecliff Medical Centre for Autistic Children in Sydney, Australia received a soft, modern makeover courtesy of Enter Architecture. Keeping in mind the needs of not only the staff, but of the special patients as well, the architects designed an interior that is bright, inviting, safe, and visually interesting.
The flowing shapes and soft, rounded edges are not merely an aesthetic decision. Corners were kept out of the equation to prevent children from running into sharp edges and getting hurt. The space was kept wide open with few visual obstructions so that parents could keep an eye on their kids with no moments of temporary panic if one ducked behind a heavy piece of furniture.
Soft furnishings add to the safe, comfortable environment. Kids can flop down on cushy beanbag chairs or climb into sculptural plastic seats. Bright toys and rugs, along with the light beaming out from behind the digitally fabricated curved architectural elements, provide gentle visual stimulation for the young patients.
The calming powers of light and color were put to work subtly, but with a wonderful effect. A neutral color pallette was used for most of the small space, with one bold orange accent wall. The overall effect is one of serenity and safety – perfect for the very special children who visit the site regularly.
We usually think of “accessibility” in relation to physical disabilities rather than the full spectrum of human differences, which include neurodiversity (different ways of processing information, like autism), mental health and the shapes and sizes of our bodies. This design takes accessibility to a new level by considering the needs of autistic people.
“At 150sqm, the project was modest in its footprint but sets a clear example of digitally fabricated interiors, and a prototype to see how these projects perform. In early conversations with the client, priorities were quickly realised: 3 radiating treatment rooms, a central reception area, lots of play spaces, soft furnishings like beanbags and excellent visibility – all of which contributed to the genesis for the ideas and space planning that followed.”
“Design sensitivity was imperative when considering the function of the space and very much influenced the final form. Having a clear understanding of the client’s needs on a day to day basis and moreover the needs of visiting patients, meant practical issues were also of high importance. The way in which the geometry circulates and unfolds not only promotes an atmosphere of calm, rest and relaxation but in severe circumstances, also prevents children from harming themselves on corners: where this space is concerned, right angles are most definitely the wrong angles.”
“The partnership of light, optics & colour also played a pivotal role in shaping the overall feel of the project. Indirect lighting was used to soften the space with cove lighting providing an additional calming effect. Colours play an important role in shaping our emotions and with this in mind, a fresh & neutral base pallet was chosen with bold colour injections interspersed throughout. Known for its healing properties, a fearless orange shade was chosen for the back feature wall. Soft furnishings complemented the colour scheme with playful Dinosaur design rugs and Fiocco “stocking” chairs by Busnelli.”