Creating a multi-functional workspace at huddersfield UNIVERSITY

LIBRARIES are at the heart of any university, but transforming them from cold and sometimes uninviting spaces into inspiring, interactive zones can be a real challenge. This was certainly the case when the University of Huddersfield decided to refurbish its library, which covers four storeys and more than 3,000sq m.

The university turned to Interface to create a multifunctional space encompassing breakout areas, meeting rooms and quiet study areas. It was essential the renovation provided an environment which fostered creativity and concentration.

For those fitting floors, creating multi-functional spaces isn’t always easy. These projects can seemingly require several products, from different manufacturers. This can lead to compatibility issues, additional costs and increased project lead times. So, when it comes to choosing products, it can be much simpler for installers to look for more innovative hard and soft flooring solutions which offer various performance benefits from acoustics to sustainability credentials and come from a single supplier.

‘This is why Interface designs its products with multi-functionality in mind, combining beautiful design with durability at no extra cost or complication for customers,’ says the company.

‘By opting for Interface products, the estates and facilities team at the University of Huddersfield knew the design would be innovative and also stand the test of time.’

Interface concept designer and University of Huddersfield alumni, Donna Dent, led the design team and worked closely with the university to create a design-led solution reportedly catering to the needs of students from all departments.

Donna Dent said: ‘My first-hand experience of studying at the university gave me a deep understanding of the needs of its diverse student base, so I was extremely passionate about this project.

‘When creating spaces for study, functionality shouldn’t affect the opportunity for inspiration, nor should design serve just one style of learning. Our design provides subtle inspiration in key areas of the library, enhancing rather than overpowering its calm, organic aesthetic.’

Three mood boards were created for the project, each showcasing a different colour scheme. These were then shared with representatives from across the departments. Radial and Composure Edge, provided what’s described as the perfect foundation for the project. The ‘distinctive World Woven carpet tile ranges were then selected to bring diversity and movement to the project’.

Says Interface: ‘Nature-inspired Composure is designed with the flexibility to flow easily through large spaces, meaning it reduces distractions for students. The collection comes in several colourways, making it easy to create flows of colour in a single installation.

‘Composure Edge, a range that features a transitional design over a single tile, enables different spaces to link together effortlessly without complicating the fitout process.

‘The Radial collection was then incorporated to create a simple, progressive gradient of colour. To add texture and contribute to the overall inviting atmosphere of the library, the World Woven collection which pays homage to some of the world’s most loved textiles was used.’

There’s no question practicality is a key consideration when it comes to enhancing high-traffic spaces such as libraries, but this doesn’t mean better aesthetics and performance can’t be achieved as well.

Continues the company: ‘One great distraction for those looking to concentrate can be noise. This is why Interface’s Level Set, Woodgrain Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) was seamlessly integrated with carpet tile across the building. Interface’s LVT comes with a high-quality acoustic backing which is proven to reduce the levels of impact sound, such as noises from heavy footsteps or dropped objects.

‘When connecting hard and soft flooring solutions, it’s critical the different products connect seamlessly together to create a natural flow through multi-use spaces. This is why Interface’s Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) has been developed at the same height (4.5mm) as the vast majority of the company’s range of modular carpet tiles, meaning the products integrate together seamlessly with no obvious height difference and no need for transition strips.’

Suzanne O’Loughlin, architectural design officer at the University of Huddersfield, said: ‘The mood boards presented by Donna and the Interface Concept Design team offered variety and featured impressive layouts, as well as an exceptionally well-thought-out narrative. This was testament to their close liaison with our estates design team, which delivered an excellent end result.’