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Bespoke floor for award-winning listed building

The, is one of the country’s best examples of Post-War architecture. A 50-year-old grade-II listed building designed in 1971 by architect John Partridge, the Hilda Besse building had had little maintenance work in the past few decades. To preserve its distinct architectural qualities, award-winning architectural and heritage consultancy practice Purcell was commissioned to refurbish and restore the building to its former glory.


As part of a sensitive renovation to enhance the original architecture and to ensure the building’s sustainable future, Junckers solid wood flooring was fitted in the famous dining hall and in the servery. Informed by historic drawings and photographs, Purcell specified a dark wooden floor, thus reverting to the original floor finish found in the building. Junckers Black Oak plank flooring was fitted in a bespoke geometric pattern designed by the architect, complementing the elaborate ceiling features.


The pattern was pre-designed by the architects for the project and Junckers’ Approved Flooring Contractor V. A. Hutchison Flooring sampled the bespoke pattern on site. With the architect’s approval on both the design and the flooring contractor’s ability to create the parquet panels to exacting standards, Hutchison Flooring created all the joints and cuts using their own bespoke methods, specially adapted for such intricate work. The result is an elegant floor fit for purpose, offering both a grand impression and a durable floor surface.


David Papworth, General Manager, Junckers Ltd said: “Junckers has provided the college with a beautiful and elegant floor, quite unlike any other. The bespoke pattern is a triumph and creates a stunning backdrop to one of University of Oxfords best examples of the traditional long dining room. Our Approved Contractor V.A. Hutchison Flooring did exemplary work here and really made the most of our solid wood flooring. We are very proud to have been involved in a project of this prestigious nature, working alongside true professionals in their respective fields.”


Junckers Black Oak is made by mimicking the natural process known as ‘bog oak’ where timber left submerged in bog conditions takes on a rich, dark colour. The colour is drawn deep into the wood, unlike a surface stain. This unique method enables sanding and refinishing of the floor without loss of colour. Specifying a solid hardwood floor for the grade II listed building ensures longevity of both design and use. A Junckers floor has a proven lifespan of 60+ years and will last for generations.


Part of the refurbishment and conservation work included improving the building’s sustainable performance as well as the wellbeing of staff and students. A solid hardwood floor from Junckers is one of the most sustainable flooring surfaces available. Junckers has completed EPDs for its wooden floors to ensure all elements of the supply chain, from raw material sourcing to production and distribution, adhere to strict sustainability standards. Wood is naturally low in embodied carbon and can easily be recycled at the end of its long life. Wooden floors contribute to a healthy indoor environment by maintaining an even temperature and counter-acting static from electrical appliances.


Junckers Black Oak is made from European Oak with FSC and PEFC certification and manufacture takes place in the company’s own factory outside Copenhagen in Denmark, where every part of the tree is used and whatever is not destined to become floorboards is used to power the on-site power station. Junckers generates more electricity than it needs and provides the surplus to the local grid, making it a carbon neutral company.


Purcell’s restoration work to the Hilda Besse building has improved the usability and access to all levels. The design has provided a spacious area for events yet retaining the informal nature of St Anthony’s College. Purcell’s sensitive design was based on Partridge’s original drawings of the building. It works beautifully to enhance the character and significance of the building as well as future-proofing the structure.


Specifying a new floor for a listed building can add several considerations to a project. A building of special architectural interest may have protected fixing to the original fabric which are strictly controlled by English Heritage, meaning it is not possible to fix the flooring to the existing fabric of the building. Junckers provides a solution with its unique, floating clip system without the need for glue or nails at installation. In addition, a building of great style and character requires a floor to match. A solid wood floor from Junckers will keep its good looks and durable surface for decades. It will stand the Hilda Besse building in good stead for the future unlike many other flooring surfaces which would need to be replaced after a significantly shorter time period. Purcell Architecture chose solid hardwood flooring from Junckers as it is a sustainable, natural product, with a long life and low maintenance requirements. Black Oak was selected due to its warm appearance and rich colour characteristics, which complement the tones of the historic interior of the building.
The main contractor for the project was CBRE.

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