Forbo Flooring Systems’ Allura Wood Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) were recently specified at The Catalyst; an architecturally striking building, home to Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD). The natural aesthetics, durable performance and dementia-friendly design of the LVT played a central role in helping to create an environment that promotes collaboration and inclusivity.

Located at the heart of the Newcastle Helix development, The Catalyst is spread over five floors and provides flexible Grade A office space, supported by a unique mix of public areas, co-working spaces and bespoke facilities such as market research rooms, data visualisation suites, a TED style theatre and a large exhibition space. The 100,000 sq ft building brings together businesses, academics and members of the public to collaborate and support the research and development of new ageing and data products and services.

GSS Architecture and workplace design experts, Design North, engaged closely with multiple stakeholders and consultees to develop the interior design strategy for the project, which was delivered via BIM Level 2. This included parties from Newcastle University, NICA and NICD, the Alzheimer’s Society and research organisations including the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC).

Scott Stewart, Director and Co-Founder at Design North, said: “Our task was to create interior spaces that were truly accessible, welcoming and inclusive for everyone, whilst encouraging creativity and collaboration between the building’s users. As some floors are open to the public, we needed to ensure that the building was easy to navigate, particularly for visitors who may have age-related conditions, visual impairments, disabilities or walking aids, for example. Under the guidance of the DSDC, we took a holistic approach to the whole specification process and designed areas to be ‘dementia-friendly’. In terms of floor finishes, this meant carefully selecting materials and colourways with suitable degrees of light reflectance values and avoiding sudden changes in tonal contrast from area to area and between walls and floors.

“We specified Forbo’s Allura Wood LVT in the Vintage Oak colourway for the staircase, main circulation areas and breakout spaces on each floor; achieving one tonally continuous flooring surface. We were aware that Forbo work very closely with the DSDC to review its portfolio of products and assess them in accordance with dementia design principles. Therefore, this information was particularly useful when it came to making flooring choices.

“The distressed wood effect complements the industrial style of the interior design and the herringbone installation of the planks adds a creative touch. On the upper floors, where the private offices are located, the visually striking Allura design installed in the breakout spaces creates a warm and inviting dynamic, which will encourage people to come out of their offices and collaborate. The robust nature of the LVT also makes it the ideal solution for such high traffic areas.”

Allura Wood is part of Forbo’s Allura Dryback fully adhered LVT collection. The in-register embossing structures emphasise the texture of the planks for a truly authentic aesthetic and the proven wear layer allows for reduced cleaning and maintenance. Allura Wood LVT also benefits from advanced production technology to ensure maximum dimensional stability and high scratch and stain resistance, so that the appearance of the floor remains as good as the day it was installed.

In addition, Surestep safety vinyl in Beton Concrete was used in areas where there is an increased slip risk, such as the toilets, kitchens and tea points. Offering guaranteed Health and Safety Executive compliant lifetime slip resistance, the stone design matches the desired industrial look and feel of the building and the innovative Step Crystal particles contributes to a clean and fresh aesthetic.

Nigel Sterritt, Senior Capital Project Manager - Estates Support Services at Newcastle University, concluded: “The Catalyst is an iconic building with innovation, collaboration and inclusivity at its core. Forbo’s Allura LVT is a real statement within the interior as the design really lifts and complements the circulation and breakout spaces – and it also looks fantastic when you look at the staircase from above. As these areas are subject to heavy levels of footfall throughout the day, we couldn’t be more pleased with its performance and ease of maintenance thus far.”

For more information on Forbo’s Luxury Vinyl Tile range, please visit or to find out more about Forbo’s collaboration with the DSDC and accredited products, please visit