Originally from India, Riyaz Bhada has over 22 years of experience in working on international projects throughout the UK, Middle East, Uganda, India and Australia. Riyaz is currently the head of Perfect Practice’s growing design team and here we talk to him about his career, how healthcare design is changing and some of the joys and challenges of designing healthcare spaces in Australia…
What made you choose architecture and design at the beginning of your career?
I knew I wanted to do architecture from a very young age, probably 11 or 12, as buildings, arts and sculptures fascinated me. I realised it more when I was declared second in the entrance exam in 1991 among 11,800 other candidates at the university of Mumbai and the second time when I was the first student whose thesis was published in the Indian Institute of Architects journal in January 1997, to de-congest traffic in the CBD of Mumbai. Both reaffirmed my decision in pursuing this line of work and today, if someone asked me what i would have done if not architecture or design, I really don’t know!
So why fit-out and interiors and not architecture?
It’s the fast pace that excites me most, such as the pressure of everyone wanting everything yesterday. Architecture is much slower and prolonged with a lot more components as well, however both have their pros and cons.
Which University did you study at?
I studied at Sir JJ College of architecture, in Mumbai and finished with a first-class Hon’s Degree. I then had my degree accessed and re-qualified in the UK along with an advanced diploma in professional practice and management in Architecture. I also became a chartered Architect at the RIBA in London. (Royal Institute of British Architects)
What do you think are the biggest challenges of creating healthcare practices today in Australia?
Every projects brings its own challenges and problems. It’s solving these problems with the right solution that makes our job as designers interesting. Architecture is all about functionality. Each doctor works differently from one another but in keeping with the general principles of healthcare practices.
The biggest challenge is time, more so for the doctors with their busy schedules. We try and make sure we can get the most out of fewer meetings in taking advantage of all the time we have with them. It’s also important that these meetings are held in close access to the resources of our showroom. This makes it so much more practical when deciding on materials as all the sample are right there. It definitely helps ensure we get it right.
Do you see any old fads and trends coming back in to fashion that may appear in tomorrows practices?
Yes, fashion and interior trends do tend to come back in some form or shape. They do say history repeats itself, and some trends are definitely re-emerging, just with a modern twist. For example wall paper and bright colours are being used more frequently, steering away from the neutral tones. Design, especially in healthcare, is being more and more influenced by the science of best-practice and ergonomic functionality whilst adopting human-centred design principals . With aesthetics, it really comes down to finding the balance between something bold or attractive and choosing materials that are timeless, not necessarily clinical but warm and aesthetically pleasing. Incorporating all this into a practice design, with close attention to all, that is what makes my team great designers.
How would you future proof a practice design?
Minimalism is the answer. Function follows form is my design principle. To future proof any practice it’s important to maximise its planning potential but not to overdo the requirements for future growth to such an extent that spaces aren’t used to their full potential. (For example – if you know you need a 3 chair dental practice, design it for 4 but not 6-7 chairs thereby reducing the size of all surgeries. In other words, common sense must prevail).
What are some of the most common questions clients ask you in the design meetings?
It’s difficult to pin point a common question, as each project comes with its own questions.
Something very common would be –
- How can I make my practice look different and stand out from all the others?
Then more on the technical side:
- Why are the corridors so wide?
- Why do you have to leave so much space next to the door? – on the latch side.
- Why do we need a disabled toilet, my last practice didn’t have one?
All of the above are based on regulation as part of new access requirements.
- How do I bring the cost down? And put those savings in the reception and waiting area.
What is the best part of working at Perfect Practice?
It’s the people that make a good organization and we have a great team and the right people!
Our Centre for Healthcare Design showroom gives us access to every possible material that is seen in a healthcare practice and most importantly allows us to share this with our clients. It really is a great asset to have in the design phase.
What do you like to do when not at work?
Keep myself fit by going to the gym daily. I play golf and squash on most weekends and I love good food. I also enjoy hiking in my holidays.
If you could take any car in the world for a test drive, what would it be and why?
Test driving a super V8 luxury car would be nice but what fascinates me more is test driving a self-balancing fully-enclosed motorcycle or a flying car. Waiting for that to come soon!
And finally, if I gave you $100 to spend on whatever you wanted right now, what would it be?
A nice meal and flowers for my wife.