Astrid Dispensary [DRAFT]

Image Credit : Photographer: Sherise Fleming



Project Overview

Astrid Dispensary subverts clinical and cold perceptions of the traditional pharmacy. A reflection of the wider dialogue surrounding medicinal cannabis, Astrid Dispensary brings together gentle curves and natural materials to reflect its devotion to natural medicine grounded in science – where conversation and connection are at the core of the space.

Project Commissioner

Astrid Dispensary

Project Creator

Alte. Studio


Barbara Chung - Architect
Builder - 360 Shop fitting
Joiner - Faze 4 Building Group

Project Brief

The client’s brief called for a “non-pharmacy pharmacy”, a modern pharmacy space free from clichés, visually and sensorially breaking down medicinal cannabis stigma. The small space and strict budget made it difficult to create the desired openness while also maintaining the necessary privacy to help patients feel safe. However, ingenuity and simplicity came together to bring the client’s vision to life.

The flow of the space starts with the open lounge area, a soothing waiting area for patients as they begin their journey, that is surrounded by greenery and natural materials. While most pharmacies situate their pharmacists and dispensary at the back, Astrid Dispensary defies convention by prioritising the connection and trust between patient and pharmacist through this uninhibited lounge area.

While the project made the most of the existing space and repurposed materials and fixtures to meet budget, curved detailing in the joinery created a space devoid of clinical feeling. The duality of strength and warmth found in Tasmanian Oak and Terrazzo stone were combined to create a space which upholds the respect medicine deserves; a space which reiterates Astrid Dispensary’s passion for natural medicine.
Every choice ties back to the brand and ethos of Astrid Dispensary.

Project Innovation/Need

Astrid Dispensary balances the desire for a calming, warm, and open space which defies traditional pharmacy design, with the need for respect, privacy, and professionalism. The design approach puts the customer experience at the forefront by innovatively flipping traditional pharmacy design on its head. While most pharmacies hide their pharmacists and dispensaries at the rear of the space, Astrid Dispensary abstracts the traditional space with an open-plan design, integrating the retail space and pharmacist’s greeting area together resulting in greater human-to-human interaction. Though the plan is relatively open, privacy is still paramount for the dispensary area. The design achieves this by demarcating public and private zones through the clever use of contrasting colours through paint colour and choice of materials.

With the customer experience catered for through the design of the space from the retail area to the dispensary, this results in a more tailored experience for patients and a comfortable atmosphere between patient and pharmacist.

Design Challenge

Further to designing something that goes against what we typically understand a traditional pharmacy to be, a tight budget and timeline were additional challenging factors that had to be managed. Not only was this pharmacy a first for the client, it was also one of the first few specialist medicinal cannabis pharmacies in Melbourne. As there is still a lingering stigma that comes with medicinal cannabis, it was crucial that the design of the new dispensary was warm and welcoming.


It was a priority for the team and client to make the most of the resources available to them to reduce waste: re-using existing fixtures, minimising the inevitable wastage associated with Terrazzo stone by creating the bench sizes with the slab in mind through tessellation and clever design, and buying much of the furniture second hand from a stylist to prevent adding unwanted furniture to landfill.

Making considered choices, big or small, need not compromise on achieving the agreed interior design goals and solutions and can in fact support and elevate the set brief.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors, with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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