Interface & Oxford Brookes

Competition to win the attention of potential university students has been growing for a number of years, as the value of higher education comes under intense scrutiny. Now institutions increasingly put their ambition to provide a holistic and transformational experience at the centre of their plans for students. This ethos was fundamental to Oxford Brookes’ recent redevelopment of the Clerici Building and global modular flooring manufacturer, Interface, says it was central to delivering this goal.

The Clerici redevelopment involved taking the University’s former main entrance building and transforming it into a hub for teaching, learning and studying. The building is the new home of the Oxford Brookes business school, a number of teaching rooms and the Sir Kenneth Wheare hall, a flexible space for teaching, events and graduations.

Tracy Panther, associate dean of student experience at the business school, said: 'It’s been absolutely fantastic to see students move in so quickly and use every inch of the building, particularly the social learning spaces. You walk around and see happy smiling faces. Students are spending more time here because it is homely and comfortable, and that means they’re spending more time engaged with their studies.'

Interface’s concept design team worked closely with the team at Oxford Brookes to create multi-functional spaces across Clerici which are said to be both welcoming and condusive to learning. Some of Interface’s nature-inspired collections were used to reportedly bring this vision to life, and work in harmony with the furniture that features soft woods, fresh colours and patterns which reflect biophilic design principles.

Commenting on the project, Laura Light, Interface concept designer said: 'It’s important that students have access to different settings, whether that’s somewhere to study or to socialise. Being able to create different designs which enhance that is really important. We knew we needed to be flexible and adaptable with our plans, while maintaining the impact of the flooring across wide spaces. We needed to add a lot of diversity across the floor, so used a number of ranges to complete the overall effect.'

Interface’s Human Nature range has been used across the Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall to help create what is described as a flexible, beautifully designed space which can be used for a number of activities. These products are suited to the main auditorium, which is both a high traffic walkway and a light, airy space which links the hall and the building’s gateway or main entrance. Interface’s Composure range reportedly helps to reinforce the structural link between these two spaces. As the two ranges compliment one another, the combination offers subtle wayfinding between the two parts of the building, creating a journey for students.

Three different shades of Interface’s Composure range, Diffuse, Solitude and Transcribe, feature across the gateway and main learning spaces. This multi-tonal approach reportedly offers variations in contrast, texture and pattern to not only bring diversity, but to also define the different spaces within the building. For students, this is said to create a variety of settings where they can both work and relax.

The Composure collection connects with tiles from Interface’s Urban Retreat 103, Infuse and Equilibrium ranges to add further texture throughout the space. Interface’s skinny planks were also used in Kiwi throughout the auditorium and the building’s gateway, to link it with the colour scheme throughout the rest of Clerici.

Drew Hardie, head of space planning at Oxford Brookes, said: 'The Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall is where our students get inducted and also where we host their graduations. Their whole cycle starts and finishes in that one room, so the design and feel of the space really help bring that together. Clerici is a key building off our central courtyard which is used for social learning, teaching, meeting academics and research. If they can stay here because they like being in spaces at the university then we’ve done our job.'
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