From a seafood restaurant to a medical clinic

While many of us were hitting snooze or topping up the kettle, these bright-eyed faces were handing over MQ Health’s latest clinic. An ambitious expansion, the project saw an impressive transformation; seafood restaurant to the medical clinic. While navigating the nuances of this change-of-use, the aging asset brought with it many complexities.

Within a eight-week construction timeframe, our Sydney-based team undertook the unique build in collaboration with MCA Architects. The transformation from scallops to stethoscopes sees an innovative health environment covering traditional consultation, diversified services, and remote consultation with “hot-desk” style Consult Rooms.

Removing the unknowns

Our engagement as construction partner was, in part, thanks to a close working relationship with Macquarie University. Having delivered many projects together, our technical expertise, along with a solutions-focused approach gave greater certainty within the aging site and its potential for latent issues.

John Mclennan, Director of MCA said of our approach, “at no point did they [Schiavello] appear pressured - they always made time for the architects to discuss solutions and methodology. We found them very responsive, very reasonable, and very willing to ensure the project was executed well. There is a clear spirit of excellence, and it is a pleasure to work with a construction team that understands good design outcomes, followed through with the management skills to exceed expectations.”

Community engagement

Tucked amidst a bustling locale, our only access point was through the central courtyard, home to restaurants, playgrounds, a fitness centre and Macquarie’s existing clinic. With crowds commonplace at all hours of the day and well into the night, our team sought to protect and elevate Macquarie University’s reputation through positive community engagement. As part of this strategy, the surrounding businesses essentially became our clients too. After all, concrete cutting doesn’t contribute much to the romanticism of eating out.

As Project Manager David Rinaldi explains, “we understood for them, that maintaining business continuity was critical. Ensuring the safety and comfort of their patrons while bringing this exciting vision to life was paramount.”

Through establishing and maintaining open communication, we worked closely with neighbouring tenants to develop a programme of works around their schedule, knowing that we would also need to be incredibly agile and adapt to their needs.

Balancing acoustics with ventilation

Sleek finishes paired with a pastel colour palette creates a deceptively simple, calming environment. Behind the facade, however, this aging asset had brought within it a number of challenges, namely an antiquated mechanical system.

Along with the space’s change of use, capacity and layout from open plan to a number of small clinic rooms, the mechanical system required a redesign. Within the ceiling, however, a wave bar fabric had been specified - hanging from the roof to the top of the walls to create an acoustic barrier between clinic rooms.

To install the mechanical ductwork, holes would need to be cut in the wave bar, compromising its acoustic integrity. The challenge was in balancing the functionality of mechanical ductwork while meeting the RW acoustic requirements.

Our solution was to conduct a full survey of mechanical and acoustic insulation, redesigning the system to get the most efficient use of ductwork, thereby reducing the number of penetrations required.

Preparing the floor for a new finish

A marriage of durability and performance, vinyl flooring is designed to meet the needs of a demanding medical environment. The challenge, however, is that the material needs to be applied to a well-prepped, levelled floor as even the slightest undulation is made obvious under its smooth finish.

As a former restaurant, floor finishes were aplenty. From kitchen tiles to brickwork, carpet and hardwood, we were left with a floor bumpier than a US election. Following a meticulous demolition, we used a quick set concrete to methodically level and prep the floor.

A highly collaborative, solutions-focused approach between our team, MCA, and MQ Health has seen us overcome a variety of challenges to deliver a critical expansion, providing the best in patient care within the local community.

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