University of Queensland Oral Health Centre by Cox Rayner Architects with Hames Sharley and Conrad Gargett Riddel
Interior Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
The University of Queensland’s Oral Health building proves that even large institutional buildings can successfully deliver carefully detailed spaces while also tackling larger problems, in this case the stress and anxiety issues commonly associated with working in dentistry. The suicide rate of dentists is more than twice that of the general population and almost three times higher than that of other white-collar workers, while the number one killer of dentists is cardiovascular disease, commonly linked to high stress levels.
A series of interior and exterior spaces unfold here, skilfully addressing climate and responding to the sloping eucalypt landscape that the building is sited within. Over thirty percent of its floor plate is naturally ventilated. Moving away from the confined spaces typically found in dental surgeries, which are a significant contributor to anxiety levels, these consultation suites are constructed with views outwards and through adjoining spaces to create openness and relief. The architect has encouraged social interaction through the planning of open corridors and highly resolved communal working spaces. Throughout the teaching areas and the functional dentistry suites, open to the public, runs a balanced material palette of off-form concrete, rich timbers, accents of green and a variety of carefully selected tiles, all of which humanize the spaces and deinstitutionalize the building.
Read the project review by John de Manincor from Architecture Australia Sept/Oct 2015.