There’s nothing quite like the purity and simplicity of a plain white backdrop. Kay Hill picks out some projects where less is definitely more when it comes to the floor
Just like the little black dress that can be accessorised for every occasion, the big white floor is timeless. Sometimes a completely white surface is chosen because the whole scheme is minimalist, other times so as not to detract from the higher art of a gallery or concert hall. It is suggestive of cleanliness and sterility when used in a surgery or clinic, and of purity and calmness in a spiritual sanctuary.
On a practical level, like wearing white trousers to a barbecue, it should only be contemplated if you are entirely confident that it will stay white – even long after the last construction worker has left the building. Sean Lane, specification manager at CTD Architectural Tiles, warns that striking a balance between safety and cleanliness can be tricky: ‘Pale-coloured flooring will naturally require more maintenance, ideally the best option with regards to maintenance would be a polished finish, but this will not provide you with the slip resistance required for highfootfall settings. However, the problem with too much slip resistance is that the surface will gather dirt more easily and as a result require much more maintenance.’
While maintenance needs considering on every project, if you are specifying white floors it obviously becomes a primary consideration, with products such as terrazzo, quartz and resin, or large format tiles proving popular for straightforward cleaning.Natural stone and poured concrete are slightly more prone to stains, depending on the finish, but are often selected when a slightly off-white creamy or grey finish is more practical or aesthetically pleasing.
Here are a few of our favourite examples:
The Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin, Poland, was designed by Barozzi Veiga, with a pure white, minimal four-storey atrium contrasting with an intricate gold interior. The gleaming floor was made using bespoke geometric tiles designed by the architect and manufactured by Huguet. The outside of the 12,734 sq m project was in white-painted concrete, aluminium and glass.
Client: Mieczyslaw Karlowicz Philharmonic Hall
Architect: Barozzi Veiga assisted by Studio A4
Bespoke flooring and concrete furniture: Huguet
Image Credit: Simon Menges
The gleaming white floor of the 723 sq m Mary Help of Christian Church in Koh Samui, Thailand, was made from gloss-finished high-density terrazzo with white sand and white calcite, merging seamlessly into a mid-density, matt terrazzo for the exterior.
Client: Suratthani Catholic Foundation
Architect: Juti Architects
Image Credit: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat
HOW Art Museum in Shanghai was designed as a completely minimalist white box to allow the art works to speak for themselves. Ares Partners used a white enamel metal panel to wrap the roof and the facade and to anchor the form of the 7,000 sq m building to the ground. The floor is made from hardened concrete.
Client: Zheng Hao
Design: Ares Partners
Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen
Council offices have a huge number of visitors, so tiles from CTD Architectural Tiles were chosen for this head office in Carlisle for their easy care, light-reflective qualities and slip resistance. The glazed porcelain tiles from the British Stone range were specified in three colours, four sizes and a mixture of natural and honed finishes to adapt to every corner of the project.
Client: Cumbria County Council
Specifying: Space Architects
Floors: CTD Architectural Tiles