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Small Steps puts its best foot forward

WHEN charity, Small Steps, secured its new home in the heart of Richmond, it required a warm, welcoming interior environment that would support children living with physical disabilities and their families.

Providing what it describes as ‘the perfect natural canvas’, Forbo Flooring Systems’ linoleum brand, Marmoleum, was installed throughout the purpose-built facility. Spread over three floors of a former office building on Worple Way, the 517sq m site that Small Steps now calls home, was funded through a generous donation.

The entire design team – which included JTP Architects, Robert Bird & Partners, MTT Consultants, ISG, PIP Building Services, and P2 Design – worked together, many on a pro bono or reduced fee basis to complete the refurbishment for the charity.

Peter Reid, director at P2 Design, commented: ‘Small Steps provides specialist help and support to parents who have children living with physical disabilities. It’s a space for them to come with their children and work on areas of development, whether that’s sitting, standing, eating, talking, and drinking – things that most of us take for granted. As most of the children are principally floor-based, comfort was key, but the design also needed to provide inspiration and stimulation.

‘The whole building embraces colour and light and Forbo’s Marmoleum was the perfect fit for the project owing to its wide design possibilities, exceptional durability and sustainability credentials. Central to the Small Steps building is the ‘hub’, which is an area for families to meet and socialise over tea and biscuits.

‘As orange is the principal colour of the scheme, reflecting the charity’s corporate colour, we used the striking marble effect of Marmoleum Fresco in Marigold to create a powerful accent in the floor design.

‘This was combined with the Orange Shimmer colourway from the Marmoleum Concrete range, a neutral concrete with a flash of colour that shimmers through the surface. The flooring really injects a lease-of-life into the facility.’

Marmoleum Concrete in Orange Shimmer was also used throughout the rest of the three-storey building, in the circulation areas to seamlessly connect the different zones and also acting as a border in the assessment and session rooms.

The border was used in contrast with various colourways from the Marmoleum Fresco range in different rooms – including Greek Blue, Marigold, Lemon Zest, and Turquoise – ‘providing inspiration and stimulation, as well as giving the rooms separate identities’.

Forbo says: ‘Thanks to its unique characteristics and with a proud heritage dating back more than 150 years, Marmoleum is a superb flooring choice for almost any application space. Created from 97% natural raw materials (including rosin, wood flour, linseed oil, jute, and limestone), the weighted average of the Forbo Marmoleum product range is CO2 neutral (cradle-to-gate), without any need for carbon offsetting.

‘Its naturally bacteriostatic properties also make the floorcovering extremely hygienic, which will contribute to a healthier environment for the children, families, and staff.’

In addition, Forbo’s Nuway Tuftiguard was installed in the entrance area. Peter continued: ‘As buggies and wheelchairs are frequently coming in and out of the building, the installation of an entrance flooring system was vital. Nuway is an excellent first line of defence against moisture and soil from the treads of shoes and wheels.

‘Its ability to be customised also made it a no-brainer for us. To have the Small Steps logo imprinted creates that all-important first impression and welcomes you into the space from the moment you arrive. We’re really pleased with it.’

Continues Forbo: ‘Nuway rigid entrance systems are ideal for all shapes and sizes of entrance areas. With a wide range of rigid and double sided and made-to-order mats, Nuway guarantees up to 15 years’ durability.’

Anita Coppola, head of Small Steps, said: ‘We love the Small Steps building – it’s perfectly fit for purpose. Bright, light, airy and full of positive orange energy and enthusiasm, the two atriums connect the three levels together, providing focus and functionality – we love that you can see the sky from the lowest level.

‘Another unifying feature is the flooring – Forbo’s Marmoleum floor finishing in marbled Greek Blue, Lemon Zest, and Turquoise being particular favourites! It looks gorgeous and creates an inspiring environment for the children and their parents to be actively involved in their learning. An absolute joy – thank you.’

The Small Steps project was commended in the Fly Forbo 2020/21 competition. For more information about Forbo’s work in the education sector visit www.forbo-flooring.co.uk/education or to enter Forbo’s 2021/22 design competition, visit

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