Flooring Focus: Projects – DesignCurial

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From student accommodations, to oncology wards and even the offices of major law firms, flooring design can have an immense impact on the user experience and these projects showcase all the different ways intelligent floor design works


Words by Toby Maxwell

The Refinery

Leeds

FOR THE REFINERY, a new-build student accommodation complex in Leeds, Jasper Sanders + Partners (JS+P) looked to create a fresh and contemporary interior design scheme that underpinned the site’s historic significance. With a variety of activity zones, Forbo Flooring Systems’ Tessera Cloudscape carpet tiles and Sarlon acoustic sheet vinyl were specified, helping to create a fully integrated and striking space that meets the demands of modern student living.

The Refinery is a 397-room student accommodation complex providing apartments, shared living spaces and a host of amenities. Developed by Gregory Property Group and operated by Fresh Student Living, the interior of The Refinery was designed by JS+P, who worked alongside AHR Architects and GMI Construction to deliver the project for Curlew Capital.

Jasper Sanders, design director at JS+P, said: ‘We took a holistic approach to the interior design and the end goal was to ensure that we were creating a single building experience.

The communal areas need reduced noise transmission. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO
The communal areas need reduced noise transmission. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO

‘In student accommodation design, there are essentially two components: the apartments, where we have the private bedrooms, kitchens and living areas – spaces that students are able to make more personal – and then the ground floor, where we have the shared amenities[…]It is here on the ground floor, where we believe there is more room for design freedom.’

Tessera Cloudscape carpet tiles played a prominent role in the ground floor amenity spaces, where in the lounge and games area, the Stormy Weather, Cirrus Sky and Ocean Winds colourways were cut to size and fitted together in a weaving pattern, in line with the theme. This combination of colours worked well together and created a differentiated, fun yet functional area.

Whether study or recreation, the flooring design needed to take into account heavy footfall. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO
Whether study or recreation, the flooring design needed to take into account heavy footfall. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO

‘As the building is open 24/7, a floor covering that could withstand the constant and heavy footfall was crucial. The carpet tiles are extremely durable, easy to maintain and they also have good soil hiding properties. As amenity spaces are shared, acoustics is also a really important factor and Cloudscape has a high acoustic value of 26 dB, ensuring minimal noise transmission. The practical solution provides a comfortable living environment where students can enjoy using the spaces, without needing to whisper for example.’

Sarlon 19 dB acoustic sheet vinyl was chosen for the walkways and circulation areas, starting at the front door in the reception area, to create a luxurious and welcoming feel. The Medium Grey Cement colourway provided a quiet floor to walk on. The Slate Cement colourway was further used to define different zones that came off the walkways, such as the snug.

Recognising the requirement for acoustic comfort in students living areas too, Sarlon 19 dB was also brought upstairs into the studios and apartments. Sanders explained: ‘In the apartments and studios, we aimed to keep the interior design as neutral as possible. Th ese are the areas where students will be making into a “home”, so they will bring their own décor. We don’t apply colour, as people will turn up with colour, and providing them with a neutral canvas enables them to decorate their spaces how they want them to be.

The gym area also needed low-maintenance flooring due to the wear-and-tear caused by students exercising. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO
The gym area also needed low-maintenance flooring due to the wear-and-tear caused by students exercising. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO

‘For this reason, the Natural Oak colourway from the Sarlon 19 dB collection was perfect for the bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms. The beautiful timber effect is super neutral but also looks very elegant; it creates a very warm and homely feel. Acoustic properties are also vital in these spaces as impact sound from one floor to the next needs to be minimised in order to improve occupant comfort and well-being. The 19 dB solution also offers optimum balance between acoustic performance and residual indentation.’

Sanders said: ‘The “zones” within the building needed to tailor to individual activities and the flooring has played a huge role in helping us to achieve our goals. In the garden room, which leads out onto the terrace, we even used Forbo’s Coral Brush in Cannon Grey as an entrance matting barrier[…]both we, and the client, couldn’t be happier.’
www.forbo-flooring.co.uk | www.jaspersanders.com


JM55 Apartment

Madrid

THIS HOUSING BLOCK, built in the 1970s on Joan Margall Street in Madrid, replicated the tight configuration of the time, managing to fi t two bedrooms, a full bathroom, a living room and a kitchen in 40 sq m. The individual rooms strictly complied with the required functional minimums, reducing the potential size of each.

The JM55 project began life as an enclosed housing unit, but has since been redesigned with only the WC being isolated while the rest of the home benefits from curtain rails that can be configured according to the proposed use of each space. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO
The JM55 project began life as an enclosed housing unit, but has since been redesigned with only the WC being isolated while the rest of the home benefits from curtain rails that can be configured according to the proposed use of each space. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO

The recent transformation takes a radically different approach, dismantling the divisions between spaces and dissolving the limits of the uses associated with each of them. A central core integrates all the facilities of the house, with the WC being the only isolated element. The rest of the materials, spaces and functions merge and flow into each other to create a single harmonious home.

The JM55 project began life as an enclosed housing unit, but has since been redesigned with only the WC being isolated while the rest of the home benefits from curtain rails that can be configured according to the proposed use of each space. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO
The JM55 project began life as an enclosed housing unit, but has since been redesigned with only the WC being isolated while the rest of the home benefits from curtain rails that can be configured according to the proposed use of each space. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO

A piece of white tiling symbolically marks the wet uses that are present throughout the house, completely coating the central piece and the floors near it. By contrast, rails included in the ceilings draw the blueprint of a totally different space, closed by curtains of different materials that give shelter or privacy as required for each of the proposed uses. A curtain of quilts surrounds the space where the bed is located while a folded felt curtain creates an independent study capsule.

The JM55 project began life as an enclosed housing unit, but has since been redesigned with only the WC being isolated while the rest of the home benefits from curtain rails that can be configured according to the proposed use of each space. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO
The JM55 project began life as an enclosed housing unit, but has since been redesigned with only the WC being isolated while the rest of the home benefits from curtain rails that can be configured according to the proposed use of each space. Image Credit: MARU SERRANO

The project, JM55, was designed by BURR and L. Pérez, with the textile design and concept developed together with the designer Rubén Gómez. It was runner-up in the Ascer Prize for ceramic architecture as well as being honoured in the recent Tile of Spain Awards.
www.burr.studio


Cancer Centre, Milton Keynes University Hospital

Milton Keynes

DESIGNED BY Ryder Architecture, the Cancer Centre at Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) brings patient experience to the fore, where the integrated flooring scheme seamlessly guides users through the building.

An extension of the main hospital, the Cancer Centre at MKUH brings together all of the cancer services under one roof, which were previously provided from three separate locations on the site. Ryder was asked to design the interior for the award-winning project.

Toby Ingle, associate at Ryder, said: ‘As the building is curved, the ground floor is a circular loop that is split into three main zones: the main reception and well-being lounge, outpatients and chemotherapy[…]It was therefore vital that the patient journey was seamless and through the use of flooring, we were able to achieve a smooth transition from one zone to the next.

The MKUH Cancer Centre is a curved building divided into three zones, each with different uses and therefore different flooring. Image Credit: ALEX WROE PHOTOGRAPHY
The MKUH Cancer Centre is a curved building divided into three zones, each with different uses and therefore different flooring. Image Credit: ALEX WROE PHOTOGRAPHY

‘We opted for a timber effect in all of the circulation spaces to provide a sense of continuity. In the non-clinical areas[…]we chose Forbo’s Allura Flex Wood Luxury Vinyl Tile planks in White Autumn Oak, which were installed in a staggered pattern. The playful use of the planks really adds a sense of dimension to the space, making it a much more friendly environment, as opposed to being cold and “institutional”. The planks are also easy to clean and can be replaced easily if damaged, thanks to their modular format.’

As the building moves through into the circulation spaces of the outpatients and chemotherapy zones, Allura Flex Wood transitions into Eternal Wood general purpose vinyl in the Elegant Oak colourway, deliberately matched to connect the spaces.

Eternal Colour was also used in the outpatient consultation rooms, chemotherapy suite and specialist treatment rooms, as well as the 24-bed inpatient ward and staff areas on the first floor. For all of the wet rooms and areas that might be prone to spillages, Surestep Star safety vinyl was used for its guaranteed lifetime slip resistance.

Alison Sandaver, Macmillan lead chemotherapy and teenage and young adult nurse at MKUH, said: ‘We had a vision of what we really wanted for our patients and this building has achieved it and more.’
www.forbo-flooring.co.uk | www.ryderarchitecture.com


Kingsley Napley

London

LONDON-BASED law firm Kingsley Napley recently relocated to a new 58,000 sq ft headquarters in Shoreditch. Moving to a brand-new building on Bonhill Street afforded endless design possibilities, with the industrial warehouse-style exterior providing a stylish setting to create an environment that would inspire the firm’s ever-growing workforce. Independent design studio KKS Savills was appointed to lead the transformation and chose to respect the urban nature of the building while keeping comfort at the core. Its designers turned to flooring manufacturer Interface to provide calm, soft, textured flooring solutions that would complement the building’s aesthetics.

The open plan and fully flexible work environment is spread over six floors and incorporates more than 20 different workplace settings to enable staff to choose where and how to work. These include traditional desks, various sized pods, team collaboration areas, video conference enabled quiet rooms and a fully equipped staff dining and coffee bar.

Kingsley Napley’s new office features extensive open plan and fully flexible work environments. Image Credit: TIMOTHY SOAR

Kingsley Napley’s new office features extensive open plan and fully flexible work environments. Image Credit: TIMOTHY SOAR

Paul Butterworth, associate director and senior designer at KKS Savills, said: ‘When designing such a diverse environment, we needed a flooring supplier that could offer something to suit a variety of areas, from texture and colour to practicality and sustainability. We worked closely with the Interface team to specify a variety of products and the client is delighted with the finished results. The flooring, along with the natural wood furniture choices, exposed concrete ceilings and columns, and soft colour palette created an understated and calm interior that is welcoming to both staff and visitors, and perfectly suited to the firm’s modern way of working.’

It was important that the design distinguished one area from another, but movement was key to ensure a smooth flow between zones. Carpet tiles from Interface’s Human Nature range were chosen to add texture and create a calming and homely feel for employees, while Level Set and Studio Set LVT flooring were used in all of the collaboration areas on the open plan floors. The textured woodgrains complemented the rugged and urban aesthetic of the space, including architectural features such as exposed concrete ceilings and columns.

Where working spaces are often neutral in tone, staff social spaces are fun and bright to encourage social interaction. Image Credit: TIMOTHY SOAR
Where working spaces are often neutral in tone, staff social spaces are fun and bright to encourage social interaction. Image Credit: TIMOTHY SOAR

In contrast to the neutral tranquillity of the rest of the office, the restaurant is a bright, vibrant space where employees can socialise and have fun. It has been designed to offer an escape from work and create a sense of togetherness among employees.

Inspired by Kingsley Napley’s brand guidelines, designers tasked Interface with creating a bespoke design using tight cut lines and circles. Interface used its Nora rubber flooring, with the inlay being cut to precision in the company’s factory before being slotted together like a jigsaw by the contractors. The designers opted for a broad selection of colours including grey, pink, blue, green and orange, and also incorporated a striped pattern to add interest to the space.

The floor of the restaurant features a striped pattern. Image Credit: TIMOTHY SOAR
The floor of the restaurant features a striped pattern. Image Credit: TIMOTHY SOAR

Suzanne Campbell, Senior Account Manager at Interface, said: ‘This is a really unique and exciting space which demonstrates the power of our full product offering. By combining carpet tile, Nora rubber flooring and luxury vinyl tile, we’ve been able to carefully cater to the different areas within the office, from a vibrant kitchen area to a variety of working zones. We’re really proud of the overall result and so glad we’ve been able to help create a dynamic and versatile office for the team at Kingsley Napley.’

Darren Jesse, chief finance and operations officer at Kingsley Napley, added: ‘Sustainability is an integral part of our strategy and operating methods, and we encourage suppliers and other stakeholders to take a similar approach. The green credentials of the products were a key consideration for the design of our new office.

‘The products selected by our designers all contribute towards the building’s sustainability credentials that meet BREEAM Excellent standards, which is a fantastic achievement for us. We’re thrilled with the new office that Interface and KKS Savills have helped us create – and the fact that it has a positive impact on the planet is a very welcome bonus.’
www.interface.com | www.kkssavills.com



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