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Image: Supplied.
  • Was completed with a modest budget
  • Designed such that construction could continue while the hospital remained open
  • Clients engaged the architect again for more work following project

The client’s brief was simple: to increase the veterinary hospital’s floor area by 80sqm and to use the new build to project a modern and appealing image to the public – all within a modest and strict building budget of circa $320,000.

The existing veterinary hospital was a 1950s house and Javi Ayora of Studio Origami Architects quickly realised that the whole budget could easily be spent just on renovating this.

So, Mr Ayora’s idea was to propose a new tall facade screen to camouflage the existing building and create a clear division between the old and the new.

The screen would not only project the clean and modern image to the public that the client was after but would also help with existing security concerns. It also meant that the veterinary hospital could keep operating during the renovation work.

“The woven screen was designed on the basis that the intersection of the vertical and horizontal straps references the ‘plus symbol’ of a medical centre,” said Mr Ayora.

“And the use of stainless steel for the screen references medical equipment, while at the same time providing an industrial ambience to the building.”

The plan was that this screen would sit in contrast to an earthy, timber-clad new build to provide the additional space required.

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The clients, two doctors, loved Mr Ayora’s approach and it was decided that they would proceed on this basis. However, when the builder’s quotes came in, the screen proved too costly.

It was at this point that Mr Ayora stepped in and took on the task of creating the screen himself – an art installation – at half the cost of the original quote.

“Having trained as an architect in Colombia, I am used to exploring different ways of doing things, because in developing countries labour is less costly”, said Mr Ayora.

“I also have a good knowledge of construction and fabrication, having constructed houses myself in Columbia. So, this was the silver lining of the project. I was able to deliver for my client.”

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Another aspect of the project that was important to Mr Ayora was the retention of the mature Jacaranda tree on this site. “Pets are very much a part of people’s family. They love them and may be waiting for good or bad news at the vet”, said Mr Ayora.

“With this in mind, I wanted the reception and waiting areas to dignify that moment. I have created a series of different spaces where people can wait, including sitting outside under the Jacaranda tree.”

Mr Ayora’s clients were so pleased with their new-look practice that they engaged Mr Ayora for another one of their sites. This time a silver lining for Mr Ayora.

~~

Written by Sandy Anghie. Photography by Matt Biocich.

This story was originally published in The Architect magazine, an official publication of the Australian Institute of Architects. It has been edited for republication by The Property Tribune. 

The Property Tribune thanks the Australian Institute of Architects for the opportunity to republish the work, and shine a light on Australian architecture.

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