The architectural journey of The Dental Sanctuary

Harriet and Mishal Trivedi share how the expectation to sympathetically blend heritage preservation with dental innovation drove The Dental Sanctuary, their squat practice project.

Harriet and Mishal Trivedi share how the expectation to sympathetically blend heritage preservation with dental innovation drove The Dental Sanctuary, their squat practice project.

For Harriet and Mishal Trivedi, transforming a grade II listed building into a luxurious dental clinic was never just about their aspirations to own a practice. Renovating the premises in the heart of Manchester came with significant responsibilities, and preserving its distinct features while adapting it for contemporary use was paramount to the success of their project.

But the result speaks for itself. The Dental Sanctuary stands on a busy road in Salford and has breathed new life into the historic three-storey Victorian house. In creating their new private dental practice, they have also managed to respect the 1840s building and its historical architectural interest.

The Dental Sanctuary is the result of a long-held shared vision. Harriet is the practice principal and Mishal is its business director. Their plan was to create a dental practice that could deliver high-quality general dentistry within a serene and comfortable environment.

Ready to leap

The couple met at university, where Harriet studied dentistry and Mishal studied electrical and electronic engineering. Harriet qualified from Liverpool in 2009 and started in hospital maxillofacial surgery. She continued her career in general practice, working as an associate – mainly in the NHS – but gradually transitioning into private dental care. She recalls: ‘I was finding NHS dentistry less and less ideal as I wanted to offer patients the full range of treatments without time constraints.’

Mishal’s role as business director brings a holistic angle to the practice with his extensive experience in leading and delivering major transformational infrastructure projects globally. And the couple’s dedication to creating an all-encompassing and patient-centred environment is evident in the attention to detail.

So, what prompted them to choose 2023 as the opportune time to launch their practice? Harriet explains: ‘We had been thinking about owning a practice for years and decided on opening a squat. Although it initially felt risky, it was our preferred option over buying an existing practice. We wanted our business to reflect our vision – high-quality, affordable dentistry in a relaxing atmosphere.’

In the summer of 2022, the couple found a beautiful grade II listed building to lease and realise their dream. ‘When we saw it, we fell in love with the bright, airy rooms and high ceilings. The layout was already perfect for a large reception and waiting room, with two spacious surgeries and a decontamination room, with space for expansion when the time came. We felt the opportunity was too good to miss, and we had reached the point where we felt that if not now, then when?

‘The location is in Salford, only five minutes from Manchester city centre and, although footfall is low, the practice is visible on the very busy A-road with lots of traffic surrounded by new residential apartment blocks. We are easily accessible from Salford and Manchester city centre, and having a car park definitely helps.’

Challenging balancing act

The building classification was already suitable for them to start a practice. Still, the grade II listed status prevented them from making alterations to the exterior of the building. Consequently, the project was no ordinary endeavour, and they faced a challenging balancing act. Every aspect of the facility was meticulously considered – from the flooring and lighting to the cabinetry, decor and dental equipment.

The reception area is often patients’ first point of contact, and the duo recognised its importance. The redesign of this space maximises seating, accommodates the clinic’s need for functionality and creates an ambient atmosphere. The use of premium furnishings and a bold colour scheme sets the tone.

Inspiration can come from various sources, and for Harriet and Mishal the design of The Dental Sanctuary started with a dark navy Belmont chair. Harriet says: ‘We loved the colour and chose matching cabinetry. I have always used Belmont chairs, so I was familiar with them. Their solid reputation and good value reassured us. We went to the Belmont showroom and chose the Eurus S6 model for both treatment centres. We chose the Eurus S6 because it felt modern and efficient with a comfortable and luxurious feel, which fitted in with the ethos of The Dental Sanctuary.’

From there, the overall look developed. ‘We wanted a neutral colour scheme that embraced earthy, relaxed colours with a botanical theme. We love plants and have a few in the waiting room, although we have tried to rein ourselves in and not put too many in there!’

They worked with the team at Global Dental on the fit-out, who, she says, were ‘amazing’.

‘We’re so happy with the result. We had an excellent relationship with them, and the whole team was quick and helpful with any queries. The project was very efficient, and they were also accommodating with everything we needed to pass our Care Quality Commission (CQC) interview. We can’t believe how quickly the project went from concept to opening.’

There were a few sleepless nights. She says the sheer volume of tasks proved ‘quite overwhelming at times’.

Bundle of joy

Amid the chaos, the couple were delighted to discover that their long-awaited third daughter was due in July 2023. Her arrival only accelerated their business plans.

Harriet laughs: ‘We embraced the madness, and now she is a reassuring presence in the practice. Having the baby around has meant we have appointed associates sooner than planned. But it has forced us to grow quickly, and we now have a team of three associates after just six months.’

She adds: ‘Good organisation and communication was key. Being a husband and wife team helped. We naturally fell into different roles, Mishal sorting out the business and project management side of things and me handling all things dental.’

And she enthusiastically credits Mishal for conceptualising The Dental Sanctuary, an idea born after extensive brainstorming. ‘It instantly felt right. “Sanctuary” perfectly encapsulates the intended ambience – a departure from sterile clinics.’

The plan was to create an inviting dental haven where a welcoming ambience replaced a more sterile, clinical environment. By re-purposing a building to intertwine past elegance with contemporary comfort, they have undeniably fulfilled their vision.

This article first appeared in Private Dentistry magazine. To receive a copy, sign up to Dentistry Club.

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