Inspired by the neighbourhood to create an urgent and primary care centre design

Island Health

Year Completed



Island Health


Victoria, BC


9,500 SF


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Renovating a local landmark to create an urgent and primary care centre design

Island Health used the redevelopment of the Medical Arts Building (a local modernist landmark built in 1953) as an opportunity to address the neighbourhood’s underserved population. They wanted to provide an urgent and primary care centre aimed at connecting residents with family doctors. The redevelopment included the revitalization of the main floor space, and a three-floor residential addition on top of the existing building. We were selected to complete the interior renovation and tenant fit out in the shell of the former clinic and pharmacy on the ground floor. We began the project in June 2020 and completed it in March 2021 and used an accelerated schedule to bring much needed medical care and support to a community grappling with the realities of COVID-19.



Responding to the pandemic

For the old, historic structure to support the residential additions and conform to modern seismic standards, we had to use floor-to-ceiling, steel cross beams which influenced the spatial layout of the design.

Construction also took place during the pandemic, within an operational healthcare environment which needed to flex to meet the needs of users.

Lastly, our design also had to regularly adapt and respond to the release of research and guidance on effective ways to mitigate the spread of COVID.


This space, with its substantial structural steel and concrete seismic constraints, was the perfect place to overcome the severity of these elements by emphasizing the spirit of Fernwood with whimsy; sparking joy with colour, texture, organic line, and form.”

Christine Craik

Senior Associate - Interior Design



Bringing the beauty of Fernwood into the primary care centre design

The Fernwood neighborhood in Victoria is known throughout the city as a particularly joyful, warm, creative, and engaged community with a thriving arts scene.

We were captivated by the public murals visible around the town of Fernwood that converted functional, industrial and otherwise nondescript features found in any neighbourhood into open canvasses of expression and symbols of togetherness. We commissioned a local painter to give the exposed structural beams that same treatment. Instantly, they became a metaphor and driver for the way we approached the rest of the project. We took a challenging aspect of the building, embraced it, and found the beauty it can possess by humanizing it.



Creating a safe environment for patients, practitioners, and staff

We created three distinct colour palettes that corresponded to each of the separated sections of the clinic (a spatial strategy we applied to minimize and isolate potential outbreaks) that were retrieved from the neighbourhood’s characteristics. For example, the green used is the exact colour of the bike lanes that connect the clinic to the rest of the city.

The functional components of the project include 15 exam rooms for both procedures and treatment, three mental health and counselling spaces, and a large teaching boardroom with shared staff areas. A droplet examination room area and vestibule were included as a secondary entrance in direct response to preventative design measures to limit the spread of pathogens such as COVID. The droplet examination area connects to an anteroom where the examining doctor can put on additional PPE prior to interacting with the patient. One of the three sections of the clinic was created as a designated educational space used to facilitate a staff learning environment.


It was a pleasure working with such a great team on this project! Despite the tight timeline and challenging site constraints, everyone kept a positive attitude and we truly had fun together bringing this project to life.”

Katie Prueter

Project Manager, Facilities Design and Construction at Island Health



Bringing back trust and comfort to the medical treatment process

The clinic offers a modern, safe and uplifting local healthcare solution to a neighbourhood that had a shortage of primary medical care options.

We are proud to have been able to help Island Health bring primary healthcare directly to the neighbourhood and its residents. The clinic removes the physical, spatial, and emotional barriers that once stood between the underserved residents of Fernwood and medical practitioners. By reflecting their neighbourhood and culture within our design, we created a welcoming and safe space that brings a level of trust back to the system. The clinic is a product of the urgency brought on by the pandemic combined with the uplifting community spirit that we have seen in response to it.

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