Graft renders dental visits spalike, complete with metaphoric beach dunes, at the sun-bright KU64 clinic in Berlin
The hot marigold hues of the swooping walls, floors, and ceilings in Berlin’s KU64 dental clinic make you totally forget you are in the domain of the screechy drill and the softly intoned claim,“This won’t hurt.” In tackling the design of a place so many dread, Graft, architects with offices in Berlin, Los Angeles, and Beijing, sought to create a comfortably upbeat ambience. The clinic’s location on the fifth and sixth floors of an office building overlooking Kurfürstendamm, a grand shopping boulevard, gave the designers an idea. “With ample sun coming through the south-facing windows, we thought this would be perfect for a beach scenario,” says principal Lars Krückeberg. The “dunescape,” as he describes the firm’s design concept, surreally evokes a Baltic seaside resort, even down to the poolside-style chaise longues and the smell of burning logs from a metal stove in the waiting room.
The 10,180-square-foot dental clinic, called KU64 after its Kurfürstendamm address, is an unusual commission for the young firm, formed in 1998. But Dr. Stephan Ziegler, who had seen a publication of Graft’s outré Q! hotel, just off Kurfürstendamm, approached the architects. Ziegler was putting together a full-service clinic for eight dentists, complete with its own laboratories and preventive-care consultation for patients who desire a spa ambience with all their dental care. Clearly the space could not look anything like a dentist’s office.
To create a sinuous, cocoonlike setting that would flow right from the entrance through the entire length of the main floor (but without a high price tag), the architects used drywall construction, surfaced in polyurethane with a colored sealant. They visually activated the fluid, 3D forms further by spraying them with enlarged dot-screen images of the human figure, cast in anamorphic perspective, and then applying a clear lacquer sealant. To counter the intensity of the marigold hue, Graft turned to burgundy for furnishings and accents on the floors and walls.
Glass windows between treatment alcoves allow daylight to permeate the spaces. Once the patient is ensconced in a treatment alcove, however, he or she is removed from view, below the eye level of other patients in the corridor. Krückeberg likens the sequestered experience of occupying a dental chair here to “sitting in a strandkorb, the enclosed beach chair on the Baltic that protects you from the wind—only here it is about a sense of privacy.”
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