Plakentia Veterinary Clinic
Plakentia Veterinary Clinic covers a peculiar professional function since it offers almost all the facilities (infrastructure) of a small hospital accommodating cats & dogs as patients along with their owners as clients. At the same time, we believe that, by its simple yet interesting architectural form, it succeeds in being easily noticed by the passerby while construction, maintenance and cleaning cost have been kept low.
Nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2017.
The building’s construction line on the narrow, Aristotelous street, coincides with the plot’s limit. This side, that is mostly exposed to the north-north western, being also very close to the opposite buildings, was implemented by a compact and relatively closed concrete wall 8.00m high. This wall, that turns and becomes lower at the front emphasizing the entrance, forms a vertical surface from which a more extroverted steel construction projects, open to the south and the view.
Concept / context and strategy
The study was assigned almost simultaneously with the beginning of the Greek economic crisis and this resulted in an unpredicted issue. The building was originally designed longer and with one more level to meet a requirement of 700m² with facilities for three or four collaborating veterinarian doctors. Due to the upcoming crisis the client (and future user) asked for a 30% decrease of the clinic program along with a reduced budget. It was the flexibility of the building’s steel construction design and the ability to cut –and- paste parts of the already finished structural and architectural study that made this easier without starting from scratch. The client was persuaded to maintain the architectural form when reassured that cost would not exceed the estimations. The clinic is located in a relatively dense urban residential area of Attiki but very close to a Highway and metro station. As a commercial building it should project a dynamic form. At the same time due to residential character of the neighborhood should incorporate in the scale of the urban fabric. Also disturbance from the clinic’s operation should be kept low. An open parking area is provided at the remaining free area of the plot. Animal wards were placed in the basement level and additionally special sound absorption and insulation materials were used. To prevent the spread of infections, all the critical rooms in the basement (surgical sector , wards, e.t.c) are supplied with excessive treated fresh air (through an air to air heat exchanger) so as to maintain positive air pressure inside them that rejects possibly infected air. As for the overground floors, nearly all rooms have large sliding windows and doors. Due to the mild climate of Attiki, outdoor rest areas can be access from most of the rooms.
Construction/Materials and structure
Apart from the concrete basement level and L shaped north – northwestern wall of the building, the rest of the construction consists of a steel structure with double tee or round shaped columns and double tee beams that support composite slabs. Double sided metallic panels with incorporated thermal insulation are used to cover the rest of the steel frame. This construction method is applied usually in industrial or storage buildings, but now is being implemented in a way that forms a surface that often covers both sides of the frame and wraps the building, taking the role of shelter, flooring, ceiling, wall, parapet and roof, defining closed and semi-open areas of the clinic.
The use of panels provides insulation for the indoor areas, keeping at the same time the cost of cladding elements low. Large fixed or sliding glass doors are covering the remaining side surfaces. All glass panels have low-emission treated surface. Natural light is controlled by blinds, curtains or tents. Where natural light is not desired, colored glass is used, which also functions as infill of the facades. All the previous materials are of high endurance, nearly eliminating the maintenance needs. Plasterboard walls or framed panels are used for internal partitioning.
Very high efficiency VRF systems are used for air conditioning so as to minimize electrical consumption along with solar collectors for production of domestic hot water. Ventilation is carried out through an air to air heat exchanger for energy recovering. Most of the construction materials can be recycled after the building completes its life circle or even can be disassembled to be used directly, as they are connected by bolts.
Since the building is open to the public space without fence or security measures, graffiti paintings began to appear. To prevent the uncontrolled expansion on the building’s surfaces a graffiti artist was hired to make paintings on some walls relative to the clinic’s object but finally he also took over the main signage contributing to the integration of the building in the neighborhood.