The Health Care Centre at Irishtown was commissioned by the Health Service Executive to provide primary care services for the people of the locality. Patients visit the centre for dental, nursing, GP and therapy treatment. It also acts as a base for community based services.
The building is located in the centre of Ringsend and Irishtown, which is an attractive mixture of small scale buildings of different periods. The centre is designed to complement these in scale and in choice of materials.
The presentation to the street is of two small blocks separated by a glazed entrance. The front of the building is stepped to respond to the varied building lines on either side. The higher block is adjacent to the multi storey apartment block to the south and the smaller two storey block relates to the Edwardian domestic scale building to the north. Both are clad in brick, a predominant material in the vicinity, and the brick on the centre was selected to complement the existing colours and finish.
The building footprint occupies most of the site and is very overlooked. As a result, the design incorporates a central top lit space around which the clinical rooms are grouped.
The building form and the low energy design are integral to each other. The central top lit space provides light to circulation and waiting areas without being overlooked and gives a view of the sky and weather. It also tempers the air and provides the method of air handling within the building. It allows choice and variety in waiting spaces and provides control, both access and separation in a subtle fashion.
The design incorporates natural lighting and ventilation. It is designed to minimize energy usage both by installing high levels of insulation and by appropriate design of air handling. The facility is for the treatment of people who are unwell, so fresh air is used throughout.
The entrance is located at the corner of the step and an intermediate outdoor space is provided between the public street and the inside of the building.
The architect provided interior design services also. A warm, welcoming and bright colour scheme was selected. This has been well received by the users.
Detailing and materials must be robust and easy to clean and maintain. They also comply with the HSE guidelines and good practice for health care buildings.
Accessibility is essential in any public building and of even greater significance in a primary care centre, with a greater than average number of frail, disabled or “walking wounded” visitors.
Access and thresholds are suitable for wheelchairs and baby buggies. There is a porch roof outside the entrance door and the building footprint helps give shelter from the wind. Surfaces are pale to reflect light and reduce air movement. Access to circulation within the building is controlled, but an automatic door is provided at reception to facilitate those who would have difficulty negotiating a self closing door. This operates by swipe card and a swipe card is issued to those coming for regular weekly visits.
Fixtures and fittings are located at heights to put wheelchair users. This is also suitable for children.
Colour is used to be warm and welcoming. Colour contrast is carefully selected to aid those with poor eyesight, without detracting from the overall colour scheme. Contrast between door frames, door leaves and ironmongery help make these easier to negotiate. In toilets, a similar contrast is provided between wall and floor surfaces, sanitary fittings, taps and levers. Glare from highly reflective surfaces has been avoided and glazing treated or designed to mitigate any effects of glare from the sky. No sudden contrasts of colour are made in flooring to avoid confusion for those with poor peripheral vision.
Door ironmongery is selected to be easily used by those who may be frail or with limited hand dexterity.
Signage is provided for orientation and guidance. It includes braille notation. At the reception desk glazed screens are avoided, as a matter of policy, to improve access and communication. Wheelchair accessible desks are provided at reception.
The tight site necessitated accommodation on two floors. The upper level is accessed by lift. For fire escape Evac chairs and a phone are provided at the disabled refuge in the stairs. Consideration was given also in the layout to dividing the building into zones, as it is possible more than one disabled person might be on the premises at any time.
A number of hearing loops are fitted and a public address system, appropriate to the building size. The specification for doors and partitions is high to ensure good quality sound insulation between rooms. The front doors are automatic.
There is a view into the building from the street, at a set back, to allow anticipation and not deter people. It also allows those waiting to be diverted by a view of the busy street outside. A children’s play area is provided. The floor is padded and colourful, but in the same level as the surrounding floor for cleanliness.
Furniture is selected to be robust and wipe down for infection control. It is selected to allow for all sizes and heights and chairs are provided both with and without arms. Seating in waiting areas is located to allow for buggies and wheelchairs. Desks have rounded corners and meet ergonomic guidelines.
The building is designed to be a healthy building. The facility is for the treatment of people who are unwell, so fresh air is used throughout. The building section encourages a flow of air out from the rooms and voided through the rooflight. The BMS measures CO2 opens high level vents as required. Low level vents are provided for manual control at a convenient height. In general the building services and form are designed to provide a flow of fresh tempered air to rooms and away from them in a way that is comfortable low key and most likely to minimize any cross infection.
Innovative integration of building plan and section with passive air control and services design to achieve low energy design.