Focus: Projects

Our pick of projects that illustrate the show-out effects flooring can produce, in settings that range from restaurants to a children’s hospital

Enigma restaurant, Barcelona

Pretty much everything about Albert Adrià’s Enigma restaurant in Barcelona is out of the ordinary, including the flooring. The concept design for the project was very much related to the pre-existing premises: an airtight exterior on the facade, and 700 sq m of interior space with a semi-industrial look. The large structural columns and the visual roughness really had an impact on the final design, with the main objective to transform this industrial space into a flowing, evanescent, profound and timeless landscape so people can disconnect from the world around them and be taken away to a world of creativity.

The space becomes the unifying thread for the gastronomic menu: every room and every dish is intended to be an ‘enigma’. The restaurant is visually open, yet the mysterious concept is found everywhere: diners discover new spaces, new foods and new textures with every step they take as they move deeper into the venue.

Materials were chosen for walls, ceilings and floors to create a ’dreamlike’ ambienceMaterials were chosen for walls, ceilings and floors to create a ’dreamlike’ ambience

The space was much like a car garage before the architectural intervention, and so converting this semi-industrial space involved covering the ceilings, flooring and walls. The materials were key in trying to create a ‘dreamlike’ space of textured tones and different colours.

The designers from RCR Arquitectes chose materials that are naturally opaque and cold, and yet offer warmth and transparency, including ceramics, steel, glass and fibreglass. Sintered stone was the vital component for the flooring. Neolith was used to create a unique piece that turned the 700 sq m floor into something akin to a watercolour painting.

Pulitzer Hotel, Amsterdam

THE PULITZER HOTEL has everything going for it. It’s flanked by two canals, is surrounded by some of the city’s best boutiques and restaurants and is a short walk from several of its most famous tourist attractions. It has also had a three-year renovation under the guidance of creative director Jacu Strauss, formerly senior designer at Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio.

The Pulitzer hotel is not actually new; it’s not even new as a hotel. Originally 25 separate 400-year-old canal houses – the first 12 of which were turned into a hotel by Peter Pulitzer in 1960 – it is a glorious hotchpotch of buildings, each on a slightly different level and connected by a maze of passageways, small flights of stairs and oddly shaped halls. Strauss spent a night in every one of the 225 rooms contemplating how best to make every one work: each has its own character, often based on its past.

Havwoods End Grain is used in the hotel’s reception area in a former warehouse buildingHavwoods End Grain is used in the hotel’s reception area in a former warehouse building

Indeed, there is a more than a passing nod to history at every turn. The building that houses the lobby was once a warehouse. Strauss chose Havwoods’ End Grain flooring because end grain was traditionally used wherever steel carts were used because of its durability and longevity. These qualities also make it perfect for a hotel lobby, a space where wood floors are often not fitted due to heavy traffic.

The palette at the Pulitzer is that of the Old Masters: deep blues, rich greens and pinky-plums. Original stucco ceilings, antique Delft tiles and magnificent fireplaces are offset by an eclectic mix of oil paintings, old mirrors and vintage prints, and thrown into contemporary relief by charred furniture from Maarten Baas, Piet Hein Eek’s patchwork Persian rugs and custom-designed furniture by Strauss himself.

In a guest suite, a herringbone wood floor leads into carpetingIn a guest suite, a herringbone wood floor leads into carpeting

And among all the elegance is plenty of humour, too: the archway of books with a bicycle on top; a wall of 17 brass trumpets with a solitary purple one; a bright yellow bulldog perched on a drinks trolley – all show a quirkiness that is very Amsterdam. Havwoods timber can be found throughout the hotel: both smooth and textured planks from the Venture Plank, Henley and Trapa ranges as well as a couple of different herringbones and the aforementioned End Grain.

‘I design mainly in the hospitality and commercial sector,’ says Strauss, ‘and for this reason I need products that are durable but without losing character. Havwoods’ range ticks all the boxes without compromising one way or the other. The woods I have used were well-suited to the design contexts and concepts, and there were some really unusual and exciting products to choose from. I also love the fact that the finishes are natural and only get better with time.’

Greene King Restaurant, Chorley

A tired venue in Chorley, Lancashire, has been completely transformed with a striking and unique floor comprising thousands of individual pieces. The former Hartwood Hall has been extensively refurbished into a new Greene King restaurant concept, a modern venue with several zones to differentiate various activities.

A mix of chevrons, parallelograms and hexagrams are among the 5,900 pieces of Moduleo Moods fitted to create a restaurant atmosphereA mix of chevrons, parallelograms and hexagrams are among the 5,900 pieces of Moduleo Moods fitted to create a restaurant atmosphere

Moduleo was specified by the projects interior architects, Fusion by Design, whose brief was to create a restaurant atmosphere with distinguishable areas to appeal to a wide customer base. With 11 styles within a 400 sq m floorplate, including triangle, chevron and hexagon patterns, the project required installation within a tight two-week window.

Damon Ward of flooring contractor Neward, says: ‘The floorplan put forward by Fusion by Design was extremely complex and our initial thoughts were that we wouldn’t have long enough to install the product. ‘The first element that we tackled included 5,900 pieces and took two men five nights to install. The product was extremely easy to work with and manufactured to such high precision that we could just crack on without having to re-cut any pieces, so it felt like it took no time at all.’

The three-week refurbishment project was valued at around £500,000 and utilised Moduleo’s Moods collection. Ward adds: ‘Usually, flooring in hospitality projects is an afterthought and products are specified dependent on what’s left after money has been invested in the fixtures and fittings, but this definitely isn’t the case here. The floor is the wow element of the project. It makes a great first impression thanks to the juxtaposition between the chevron columns and hexagon scheme in the adult dining areas as soon as you enter the building and the variation of patterns throughout the venue.

A mix of chevrons, parallelograms and hexagrams are among the 5,900 pieces of Moduleo Moods fitted to create a restaurant atmosphereA mix of chevrons, parallelograms and hexagrams are among the 5,900 pieces of Moduleo Moods fitted to create a restaurant atmosphere

‘There was a substantial amount of work involved to get the floor level before installation, which saw us lay 6.5 tonnes of self-levelling compound, and four floor fitters worked throughout the night to accommodate other trades. We’re really pleased to have been involved with the scheme as we’ve learned some new skills using the system. The overall look is really impactful and it’s proved to be a great case study for us too.’

David Bigland, managing director at Moduleo UK and Eire, adds: ‘The client didn’t want tiles, carpet or timber for the venue, so this project is a fantastic showcase of the variety and versatility of our Moods collection. The project is also a good example of zoning, which is really popular at the moment, particularly with hospitality projects, as it encourages the definition of areas. So, waiting spaces can easily be separated by flooring, rather than partitions, which can be obtrusive.

Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, Scotland

Tinto Architecture specified Forbo Flooring Systems’ acoustic floor covering, Sarlon, in an array of striking colours to create an interior that had a profoundly positive effect on both patients and staff at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital in the Scottish city. The array of calming and mood-boosting colours from the Sarlon collection is also combined with the benefits of 15dB impact sound reduction and easy maintenance.

The ARCHIE Foundation, the official charity of the children’s hospital, asked Tinto Architecture to develop a new design for the reception and cafe areas at the front entrance. Associate architect at the practice, Ewen Buchan, says: ‘The existing reception to the children’s hospital was not very child friendly and so we knew we had to create surroundings that would produce a comfortable yet calming environment for patients and parents. It was also important that we created a space that children would love and in which they would feel completely at ease.

‘Knowing that colour can have a profound effect on human behaviour and emotions, we worked with The ARCHIE Foundation to specify the floor colours and the overall design, as it has great knowledge of colour psychology thanks to the extensive research it has completed, some of which was based on research by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.’

The choice of colours add to the room’s serenity in the children’s hospitalThe choice of colours add to the room’s serenity in the children’s hospital

The hospital area contains a large tree structure in the centre of the main waiting area and large windows, spanning from ceiling to floor, with views to the gardens. As such, Tinto Architecture decided to use green tones to link with the beautiful new hospital garden and reflect its calming nature.

As green is a reassuring colour, signifying harmony and balance, the practice knew it would work well in this area for those visiting the hospital, often facing tough times.

Buchan adds: ‘We specified Forbo’s Sarlon in Avocado and Lime colourways in the centre of the room and bordered it with a striking blue. The colours add to the serenity of the room, as it is said they invoke trust.’

Another important consideration for healthcare design is acoustic performance. Acoustical engineers at John Hopkins University have found that noise in hospitals has significantly increased since the Sixties, with average daytime hospital sound levels rising from 57 to 72 decibels, while average night-time levels have jumped from 42 to 60 dB. All far exceed the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 35 dB as a top measure for sound levels in patient rooms.

As such, this collection was ideal for the hospital to promote well-being and comfort to those who occupied the building. Forbo’s Sarlon Acoustic Vinyl range has been developed and tested to offer up to 19db impact sound reduction while meeting the needs of heavy traffic commercial areas and retaining a minimum residual indentation.

Forbo’s Eternal Wood in Elegant Oak was used in the family waiting area, as its natural design fitted in with the outdoor theme of the room. In another smaller area, used as a fundraising office, Sarlon was used in Buttercup Yellow, signifying optimism, confidence and friendliness – all positive emotions for hospital visitors.

Buchan says: ‘Within the hospital entrance we installed Forbo’s Coral Welcome entrance flooring system paired with Nuway entrance barrier matting. They work hand-in-hand to achieve a durable, strong, entrance system designed for heavy footfall – significantly minimising the risk of dirt being carried into the building. This is important in a hospital that sees hundreds of children pass in and out every day.’

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