Good de­sign makes us all feel bet­ter

Two wow-fac­tor Lon­don an­i­mal hos­pi­tals lead the way in show­ing we can all ben­e­fit from up­lift­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, says Claire Bing­ham

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Animal-friendly Design -

TWO stun­ning new vet­eri­nary prac­tices are de­signed to make an­i­mals and their own­ers feel just that lit­tle bit bet­ter — es­pe­cially when one of them is pawly (sorry) — sim­ply by en­ter­ing their doors.

Most vets’ premises can ap­pear dull and func­tional, but that’s def­i­nitely not the case at Bat­tersea Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal ( see panel, right), de­signed by Jonathan Crane Ar­chi­tects. This cut­tingedge, eight-storey hos­pi­tal for Bat­tersea Dogs & Cats Home is where res­cue an­i­mals in the shel­ter’s care are treated.


Sim­i­larly ex­cit­ing is The Lon­don An­i­mal Hos­pi­tal, a new clinic in Ken­bury Street, Cam­ber­well. A blue­print for mod­ern vet­eri­nary clin­ics, its 500 square me­tres of light and airy in­te­rior de­sign and state- of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties would tempt even a hu­man to hap­pily rest their head.

Find­ing the per­fect lo­ca­tion and an old fac­tory site up for sale en­abled owner and vet­eri­nary sur­geon David Cuffe to ful­fil his am­bi­tion.

It is hard to be able to af­ford to stay in cen­tral Lon­don. Even the RSPCA had closed down its clinic in Cam­ber­well Sta­tion Road, but Cuffe de­cided to take the risk. The time was right for a dif­fer­ent kind of an­i­mal hos­pi­tal.

Cuffe’s clinic, which he runs with man­ager and vet­eri­nary nurse Hannah Cur­wood, is known for of­fer­ing roundthe-clock care. “An­i­mals do not keep reg­u­lar hours, and nor do peo­ple. We re­alise peo­ple have to go to work early, and get held up on trains com­ing home to col­lect their an­i­mals. It is stress­ful for every­one quite of­ten.”

So Cuffe sat down with ar­chi­tect Chris Bryant of de­sign stu­dio alma-nac, to cre­ate a space that has a big feel-good fac­tor. There are two con­sul­ta­tion rooms — one for cats, one for dogs. Pho­to­voltaic cells: Igloo ( Sky­lights: Vi­tral (vi­ Ply­wood: 18mm birch-faced ply­wood with Osmo coat­ing Join­ery and fur­ni­ture: by alma-nac (as be­fore) Kitchen: Naked Kitchens (naked­ LED light­ing: be­spoke de­tail by al­manac. Fit­ting by Zan­gra (zan­ Staff area pen­dant shades: from Assem­bly­room (assem­bly­ Re­cep­tion: the sky­lights are tripleglazed to stop an­i­mal noises get­ting Other spe­cial­ist rooms of­fer pri­vacy and space where pet own­ers can stay with their an­i­mals for a lit­tle while.

Cuffe stresses: “It is im­por­tant that peo­ple who have up­set­ting events like an­i­mals be­ing put to sleep or with se­ri­ous ill­nesses can stay in that room and talk to them and not be dis­turbed. This is al­ways hugely ap­pre­ci­ated.”

A spe­cial­ist room has a comfy couch with an exit via a pri­vate door if some­thing up­set­ting is hap­pen­ing.

Staff en­joy a bed and shower room for when the team works nights, and all this within an up­lift­ing, spa­cious de­sign with, for the most part, green cre­den­tials — LED light­ing, so­lar-power and forestry-ap­proved ply­wood and prized CT scan­ner.

On the im­por­tance of sus­tain­able de­sign, Cuffe ex­plains: “Medicine is a par­tic­u­larly non-green in­dus­try. We have all these sin­gle-use sy­ringes, sin­gle-use ban­dages, sin­gle-use ev­ery­thing and all made from petro-chem­i­cal de­riv­a­tives, which of course are all non-biodegrad­able.

“We’ve put in a rain­wa­ter catcher so that we use re­cy­cled wa­ter to run through our ster­ilis­ers and laun­dries. We re­placed the as­bestos roof with an eco­log­i­cal metal roof in­stal­la­tion with photo-volt­age cells.”

But it’s the so-called “nerve sta­tion” that’s Cuffe’s favourite part. “From here you can see the op­er­at­ing the­atres, the cat­tery, the re­cov­ery changes, and from the big dig­i­tal screen on the wall, you can see what an­i­mals are in next. It is so ex­cit­ing.” There is even a turn­ing cir­cle for parked cars in their nar­row space.

out. Floor­ing is a slightly cush­ioned vinyl, which is less tir­ing to walk on. The mod­ern ply fur­ni­ture was pur­pose­built by alma-nac with seat­ing at one side for dogs and benches with higher sides for cats. The re­cep­tion has re­cessed scales built into the floor so pets can walk on to them at ground level — dogs can be tricky to weigh. Re­cep­tion clock: alma-nac de­sign with Karls­son Hands (pre­sent­ Re­cep­tion hang­ing pen­dants: Ar­tikel Re­cep­tion wall lights: Artemide ( ar­chi­tec­turally in­ter­est­ing,” says Clark. “The team work­ing here ap­pre­ci­ate the ar­chi­tec­ture, and maybe the dogs do, too. We use a lot of colour.”

Placed in be­tween two busy rail­way lines at Vic­to­ria and with tracks un­der­neath for the North­ern line ex­ten­sion, the multi-storey build­ing faced all sorts of con­straint chal­lenges. At one point it is only 3.6 me­tres away from the rail­way track.

“Cladding the build­ing was also im­por­tant,” Clark says. “We put up the glazed blue-and-white ce­ramic tiles to look great in years to come.”

As a char­ity, Bat­tersea Dogs & Cats Home had to keep cost in mind, so the re­cep­tion area is small and con­structed of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als. This makes it fresh, sim­ple and work­able.

Last year Bat­tersea per­formed 4,728 op­er­a­tions on the dogs and cats in its care.

Mod­ern medicine: left, The Lon­don An­i­mal Hos­pi­tal’s owner and vet­eri­nary sur­geon David Cuffe and man­ager Hannah Cur­wood. The Cam­ber­well prac­tice fea­tures two con­sul­ta­tion rooms — one cats, one dogs — and state-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties

Keep­ing the peace: the mod­ern ply fur­ni­ture in re­cep­tion at The Lon­don An­i­mal Hos­pi­tal has seat­ing at one side for dogs and benches with higher sides for cats

Treat: the new Bat­tersea Vet­eri­nary Hos­pi­tal has a wall of blue-and-white ce­ramic tiles and glass ris­ing six floors, plus plenty of room for walkies

Pet cen­tral: some­one’s en­joy­ing the cat­tery, top, at Bat­tersea, while a pooch waits to be seen by the vet at The Lon­don An­i­mal Hosp­tial

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