Putting patients first by design

Putting patients first by design

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) was amalgamating five hospitals together into one large site; the new Cedars Cancer Centre (the Cancer Centre) was one of them. In so doing, the executive leadership requested that each of the five facilities needed to maintain their own identity while unifying with the others to form a modern perspective on integrated healthcare in Quebec.

Interior Designer: Susan Chung, ARIDO

Design Firm: IBI Group Architects

Design Team: Kathryn Lee, ARIDO;

Photographer: Claude-Simon Langlois

Together with the Client team, guiding design statements were developed which the design team referred to often as the interior design master strategy was created. Respecting long legacies while moving forward into the future, ensuring sustainability in all aspects of the building design, and putting the patients first were some of the essential overarching principles.

Outside
Photo credit: Claude-Simon Langlois

Our design mandate was to create a mosaic of design elements that would be reflective of the community the hospital resides in and also provides a common language that is expressed within the building as a ‘city’ – neighbourhoods, public squares, boulevards, social and gathering areas, and dedicated private zones. The Cancer Centre, occupying a significant portion of the overall ‘city’, required a strong brand to be recognized by all who visit, to lead them from the exterior and seamlessly through to the interior. Designated colours, healing elements, patterning, artwork anchors, and architectural detailing were painstakingly considered to form the basis of the design concept and resulting solution. Staff, users, and patient advocates were engaged throughout the design process over a term of several years to ensure that all stakeholders had a strong voice.

Inside
Photo credit: Claude-Simon Langlois

The strategies with respect to the implementation of the master interior design strategy encompassed a three-tiered approach – a consideration of Public Areas (Primary) in which anyone can move freely unescorted, Transition Areas (Secondary) in which people are moving from public to private zones, and Private Areas (Tertiary) which are restricted to personnel and escorted people only.

Inside
Photo credit: Claude-Simon Langlois

Finishes and materials, wayfinding elements, artwork and legacy, and furniture were selected and designed with those specific intentions in mind with a special focus on healing. For the Public/Primary category, the design intent featured bolder colours and finishes to support wayfinding principles and the identity of the Cancer Centre.

Inside

In the secondary areas, the finishes and design intent were planned around signifying entries and the movement of people; removing the stress of having to ‘think’ about where to go. Private/Tertiary Areas feature a softer muted palette, to promote healing and a soothing atmosphere. The hospital is highly recognizable from the outside in. The community is aware of the natural tones of the terracotta ‘colours’ of the Cancer Centre. Upon arrival, there’s a sensory garden at the entry, also accessible from the radiation bunker areas.

Inside

The nature elements link to the interior with architectural elements such as curved organic focal walls, translucent panels obscuring intimidating equipment, floor patterns and ceiling elements that guide visitors. Wayfinding is instinctual; relying on colour, pattern, and shape with signage to confirm arrival. Artwork and legacy are strategically placed to aid in wayfinding and promote positive distraction.

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