Planning healthcare facilities with Playmobil figures and 3D printers
How designers are using toys and printed furniture to unlock creativity and improve communication
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A case study in hands-on 3D collaboration
The team’s use of 3D physical models coupled with traditional design tools put the users in the driver's seat, allowing them to articulate their ideas and infuse them into the design process and decision making.
Stantec designers have seen how effective this collaboration can be in healthcare. Now they are curious to see how it can be used in workplace, hospitality and so on, anywhere planning collaboratively with the client is possible. One lesson that the healthcare planning kit uncovered is that sometimes the most engaging and collaborative technology isn’t on a digital screen.
What’s in our healthcare planning toolkit?
Comprised of off-the-shelf toys and 3D-printed furniture, this toolbox gives designers and collaborators all the elements they need to simulate care in three dimensions.
A 3D-printed library of healthcare furniture and elements such as workstations-on-wheels, guest chairs, exam tables, and biohazard disposal bins.
In a healthcare project, communication skills and methods play an important part in ensuring designers and users exchange information efficiently. Traditionally, designers take the driver’s seat and give the client design schemes to react to. To some users, these diagrammatic drawings might as well be written in an alien language. This can reduce user engagement.
In their efforts to find a better way to communicate, Stantec healthcare designers devised an original method for collaborating on planning with clients: A new healthcare planning toolkit.
Want to know more? Read the full story—Playing for Keeps—in the Design Quarterly
To increase engagement, the team created rudimentary paper and foam core cut-outs as a simple tool kit clients could use to simulate a typical day in its space. This resulted in immediate engagement as well as rapid and productive conversation.
Boosting engagement in the design process.
Where did the healthcare planning kit come from?
The team went 3D so our users would better visualize the spatial relationships between staff, components and environment. It settled on a one-inch-to-one-foot scale and the commercially available Playmobil City Life hospital kit to allow users and designers to further engage in clinical space simulation.
Playmobil doesn’t have all the components the team must account for in these clinical environments, so the team printed 3D versions of real furniture and equipment in-house in 3D at scale.
Printing components from digital models.
The toy Playmobil City Life hospital kit comes at 1x1 scale with patient and caregiver figurines and furniture such as a C-arm X-ray machine.
A grid base at one-inch-to-one-foot scale representing a room, available in various sizes.
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The team provided three healthcare planning kits containing typical components for exam and procedure rooms on a 1"=1' gridded base. Physicians, nurses and administrators were engaged from the get-go, and the brainstorming was energetic and productive. They arranged components, explored options such as a wall-mounted or mobile workstations and sliding barn doors. Through this exercise, all three specialties laid out their ideal exam and treatment rooms with help from a Stantec facilitator.
Healthcare designers brought the new healthcare planning kits to a client in the southeastern United States with an existing outpatient cancer center that lacked adequate clinical support spaces. The team met with the client to define a program and vision for the renovation, using a mock-up exercise to help right-size the spaces and define a clinic module.
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