Stantec uses Playmobil to redesign medical facilities

02 architects are using playmobil to redesign

Architects and medical doctors communicate two completely different languages. One is spatial, the opposite medical. So once they want to work collectively to plan out the bodily area the place medical care takes place, rather a lot can get misplaced in translation.

A brand new toy-based design toolkit developed by the design and engineering agency Stantec goals to make the method of designing medical areas extra intuitive for each designers and medical doctors. Utilizing acquainted Playmobil human collectible figurines and a library of scaled-down 3D-printed furnishings and gear, the toolkit places the method of shaping the area into the palms of those that’ll be utilizing it.

[Photo: courtesy Stantec]

“A variety of instances once we work with the medical facet, that is the primary time they’ve ever labored at any stage of depth at designing area,” says Herschel Block, a senior medical planner at Stantec. After noticing that two-dimensional architectural drawings had been laborious for non-designers to totally grasp, Stantec planners began in search of options. “There was actually a necessity to make this extra understandable by having a typical language.”

[Photo: courtesy Stantec]

The widespread language they’ve determined to use is one most individuals realized as youngsters: enjoying with toys and constructing blocks. Utilizing the collectible figurines and custom-printed medical gear, the toolkit permits medical doctors and clinicians to lay out a mannequin process room on a gridded flooring plan, making it simple to see the place issues ought to go and the way to optimize the area.


They’ve put this toolkit to use on a redesign mission for the surgical procedure and examination rooms on the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, an outpatient facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The middle wanted to rethink the areas shared by three completely different groups of specialists, one specializing in speech-related points, one other specializing in cancers affecting the top and neck, and a 3rd that conducts surgical procedures on cleft palates and different oral points. The belief going into the design course of was that every group used the examination room in a different way and so would have completely different spatial wants.

[Image: courtesy Stantec]

After some discussions about how they use the area, every group was given its personal toolkit to bodily mock up how they imagined a really perfect examination room. Utilizing the Playmobil figures and 3D-printed mini variations of widespread gear resembling surgical procedure tables, chairs, and lights, the medical doctors started constructing their very own fashions of rooms that might work greatest for his or her wants.

“The extent of engagement that was happening was fascinating,” says Todd Stevens, president and CEO of the Mary Fowl Perkins Most cancers Middle. “I’ve been in a bunch of conferences on area design with physicians over my 30-year profession in most cancers care. And up till this session, all of them sort of appeared the identical. They had been productive however irritating on the similar time since you knew there was extra to it and extra engagement that you could possibly pull out of the physicians.”

[Image: courtesy Stantec]

Stevens says the toy-based design train received the clinicians to extra exactly take into consideration how issues resembling tables and cellular gear may greatest be positioned and saved, bringing rather more specificity to the design in contrast to a verbal rationalization.

And although every of the three groups of clinicians has a special focus space, the potential flooring plans they got here up with utilizing the toolkit ended up trying nearly the identical. “There was much more consensus visually when the three groups stepped again and noticed, ‘Wow we may do issues extra related than completely different,’” says Stevens. “That was a hanging revelation.”

Their designs even ended up revealing methods the renovated rooms may avoid wasting area, through the use of doorways that slide as an alternative of swing open, and higher understanding what gear wanted to be within the room always and what may very well be saved elsewhere. The financial savings added up to possibly 10 or 20 sq. toes, however when that will get multiplied over a number of examination rooms, the redesign will unencumber important area for different wants on the most cancers middle.

The train was additionally useful for Stantec’s designers. “We get to uncover issues that we didn’t even understand they’re doing,” says Stantec senior medical planner Maria Barillas. For instance, seeing that completely different medical doctors had been transferring lights and gear out and in of rooms relying on the process helped inform how and the place they need to be saved. “You permit them to take the drivers’ seat.”


This design train occurred earlier than the pandemic, and Stantec’s designers haven’t but been ready to attempt it once more, however they count on that it’s going to turn into part of their design course of. Barillas says the toolkit may very well be significantly helpful on college tasks in addition to different healthcare-related designs.

For the Mary Fowl Perkins Most cancers Middle, the pandemic has additionally stalled the implementation of the designs developed by way of the usage of Stantec’s toolkit. Stevens says that he’d need to see this type of toolkit-based train on any extra design or renovation tasks that the middle undertakes sooner or later. “If the structure agency that we find yourself partnering with doesn’t do that as a part of their discovery, we most likely wouldn’t work with them,” he says.