You expect clinics to look, well, clinical—Modernist, austerely immaculate boxes, hygienically white inside and out. REHAB Basel, a privately run clinic for spinal-cord and brain injuries, ingeniously subverts the stereotype while bolstering its therapeutic goals. It appears residential and natural—though not with a funky, down-home earthiness, but a crisply turned-out mien. Here, oak, pine, larch, and ironwood enclose and screen exterior walls, and a rectilinear plan brings daylight and landscape into its precincts through courtyards, grassy roofs, glazed walls, upper-level decks, and skylights.
In providing 92 beds in double and single rooms, where patients with spinal-cord or brain injuries can stay up to 18 months, the clinic directors eschewed the institutional hospital look. Gone is the typical maze of corridors and doors to anonymous rooms. The staff sought to connect patients visually and physically with the landscape while giving wheelchair-bound paraplegics a sense of autonomy. The program called for a day clinic, physical and neurological therapy rooms, medical facilities, conference rooms, a gym, a patient swimming pool, plus overnight accommodations and semiprivate meeting areas for family members.