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‘A fresh, welcoming appearance’ for prestigious university department

THE School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, one of the country’s most historic universities, recently sought to update its flooring.

With the existing floorcoverings having become worn and dirty, the university department turned to Forbo Flooring Systems’ integrated portfolio of barrier matting solutions, Nuway and Coral, to create a better first impression for students, staff and visitors.

Based in the University of Oxford’s social sciences division, the School of Geography and the Environment is recognised as a dynamic and diverse academic department. However, following years of heavy foot traffic, the flooring in the building’s reception had deteriorated in condition, leading to the decision being made to replace it.

With more than 3,000 students, staff and visitors entering the building every week, it was essential an effective and resilient entrance flooring system was specified and installed.

Lorna Softley, head of planning and projects at the School of Geography and the Environment explained: ‘As a busy department, we were conscious we needed a durable flooring system for this main throughfare into the building, one that could withstand the heavy footfall we expect per day. This was something that drew us to Forbo’s entrance flooring solutions, as we knew they could deliver on the functionality we required, ensuring levels of walked-in dirt and moisture were reduced.’

However, it wasn’t just the functionality that the department were concerned about, with Lorna saying: ‘As the previous carpet had become really worn down, we wanted to go in and replace it with a contemporary, patterned and multi-tonal carpet. We wanted the new floor coverings to contrast with the original plain grey flooring and bring a more energetic and vibrant feel to the reception space.

‘We were presented with options from a few different suppliers but Forbo’s stood out to us, with the wide variety of colours, patterns and textures across its Nuway and Coral entrance flooring ranges. We wanted a solution that wasn’t too dark in colour, to avoid it getting discoloured or marked, but also light enough to ensure the entrance felt open and welcoming.

‘With this in mind, we specified Forbo’s Coral Interior in the Ocean Spray colourway directly inside the entrance and in the surrounding reception and stairwell areas. As we were only replacing part of the overall interior carpet, we had to make sure the new flooring would complement the existing floorcoverings.

‘We considered blues and greys, but eventually settled on a mix of blue hues with some darker black tones. This gave us the best balance between our aesthetic and practical requirements.’

In addition to Forbo’s Coral flooring, the Nuway Bamboo primary barrier matting was also installed, maximising the effect of the flooring scheme as a whole.

Lorna commented: ‘We were very interested in the sustainable building materials used in Forbo’s Nuway Bamboo. Along with its sustainability credentials, it provided a unique wooden aesthetic which created a warmer entrance to the main reception area, alongside the Coral. Nuway is also extremely durable and acts as a first layer of defence against walked-in dirt and moisture.’

Forbo worked closely with the team at the School of Geography and the Environment to illustrate the different options available to them, as Lorna explained: ‘Forbo provided us with plan designs of how different flooring options and tile layouts would look in the reception space, including their suggestions as well as our own. Forbo were more than happy to produce additional concept images as our ideas developed, which was an incredibly useful part of this process, helping us decide on the colourways, patterns, and layouts.’

Being a busy educational environment, it was also important the installation phase went smoothly.

Andy Bell, managing director at Oxford City Flooring, spoke about this section of the works, saying: ‘We had the Nuway entrance matting installed by our Forbo trained installer, while the Coral was just a standard tile installation, with the added feature of a tile and plank option within each box of tiles. The install itself was straightforward – we’ve installed Forbo products before and have always found its products to be of a high standard and easy to install, and this project was no different.’

Given the ease of installation, there was little downtime, allowing students and staff to access the building as normal with minimal disruption to their daily routines.

Alex Black, facilities manager at the School of Geography and the Environment, concluded: ‘We’re very pleased with the final result. The new flooring has given the reception area a much-needed lift and we’re delighted to now have a more welcoming and vibrant entrance to the building for students, staff and visitors.’

Find out more about Forbo’s entrance flooring solutions, here: www.forbo.com/flooring/en-uk/commercial-products/coral-nuway-entrance-matting-and-flooring/ce0cxk or learn more about the options available for the education sector: www.forbo.com/flooring/en-uk/segments/education/pcgtu9

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