Why surfacing is an essential consideration for the design of therapeutic spaces

Warsaw – Today, it's actually one of the oldest medical schools in Poland that looks the most modern. In 2015, local practice Open Architekci added a new seven-storey children's hospital to the centuries-old Medical University of Warsaw.

The 80,000-sq-m University Clinical Centre is a glass block that offers a state-of-the-art facility for patients coming from around the world, also containing multiple clinics with spaces dedicated to teaching and research. Open installed more than 7,000 sq-m of Artigo rubber flooring both for its many practical purposes, being hygienic, easy to maintain and sound-dampening, and as a way to contribute to the therapeutic and aesthetic value of the interiors.

'The whole design reflects the desire to create a child-friendly building intended to provide comfortable conditions for all users,' says a spokeperson for Open Architekci.

Artigo rubber flooring carries colour vibrantly while keeping bacteria out, resolving the myriad of hygienic and aesthetic challenges of healthcare facility design, especially in children's clinics. 

Over the years, it has been broadly accepted that design is a crucial therapeutic factor in healthcare facilities, promoting recovery and preventing stress. The architects understood that a hospital is a complex organism consisting of numerous smaller elements and was looking for one product that could accomplish multiple practical tasks: A hospital's entrances and corridors are subjected to heavy foot traffic while the floors of patients' rooms are famously prone to indentation, for example. Waiting rooms and lounges for families arriving with, or waiting for, patients must provide calm and comfort and almost every square meter of a healthcare facility, including specialist zones, demands rigorous infection control.

Working with Artigo enabled the Open team to utilize naturally non-porous, bacteriostatic and anti-microbial flooring featuring radically smooth surfaces that are easy to clean and maintain. Resilient rubber flooring also diminishes noise due to treading (a 3 mm floor, for instance, can cut sound values up to 10 db, while the acoustic version is certified up to 21 db), prevents slips, slides and falls, and gives the floors extreme durability (containing no plasticizers, they won't ever crack) with some Artigo floors having lasted more than four decades.  

Kayar flooring by Sottsass Associati pushed the flooring industry into a fresh wave of material experimentation. This acid green and black are the collection's signature colours.

To animate the spaces with texture and colour, Open selected Artigo's popular Kayar flooring in the collection's two signature colours, an energizing green (K72) and black (K00). Kayar was born in the office of Memphis design movement legend Ettore Sottsass' Milan-based Sottsass Associati in 2004. Inspired by Indian visual and material culture, it was the first rubber flooring to incorporate natural coconut fibers in its surface, giving it an unprecedented texture underfoot and visually. 

Not least, in an age when climate change mitigation has become one of the world's most urgent challenges, Artigo flooring can help to earn LEED credits, BREEAM certification and count toward credits in a number of other architectural environmental sustainability rating systems.

artigo.com

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