The Dumfries Dental Centre is a ground-breaking centre of excellence and learning that moves away from traditional dental building models to co-ordinate a facility built on a series of progressive approaches to dental treatment and education. Its welcoming and positive environment is the product of the commissioning Health Board’s changed approach to design which is being continued bringing benefits to subsequent projects.
The combination of the new building and existing facilities on a nearby site was conceived as a centre of excellence, providing service and training within the region.
After OBC stage, the client took the opportunity to work with a new design team, Davis Duncan (now Archial Ingenium), to produce an innovative and unconventional dental facility. The Project Manager Stephen Howie, one of NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Design Champions, was taking part in a series of seminars organised by A+DS to raise design awareness and inspire change and he credits this process with supporting the move to a less conventional approach.
They rejected the conventional dentistry building model, in particular the tendency towards small windows, and instead designed a long linear building cranked around the helipad, with large full height windows to maximise views and daylight levels. The building is entered in the centre, with a large waiting room from which you are either directed left or right, towards the standard consulting rooms, or towards the training area.
A primary focus in the scheme was the redesign of consulting rooms. During the initial design phase, a great deal of work was put in to designing consulting rooms that were ambidextrous, as traditionally dentist rooms are right or left handed, restricting recruitment and flexibility. The process involved detailed consultation with staff, and a full scale mock up for testing.
Reaction to the centre has been very positive, with the building winning and nominated for a number of design and sustainability awards, both within the NHS and beyond. Overall the building has been a great success, and is appreciated by its users, both staff and patients. It is confirmation that good design can support both innovative, highly specialised facilities and working practices, and the everyday journey and experience of the patients and staff.