Constellations and NTU team up for full refurbishment

Sponsored: Creating an intimate and stylish social space in the heart of Nottingham Trent University’s City Campus

The Bonington building sits at the heart of Nottingham Trent University’s City Campus and is the home of the School of Art and Design, and the Bonington Gallery.

Opened in 1969, the Bonington building has seen some dramatic transformations over the years, both internally and externally, keeping pace with NTU’s campus developments.

The entrance to the Bonington building has been a café space for a number of years, offering students and staff a place to meet, relax and work. Situated in a thoroughfare to the studios and lecture theatres beyond, and boasting high glass ceilings, the increasing popularity of the café space prompted the NTU team to consider ways to create a warmer and welcoming space, which reflected the personality of the School of Art and Design.

In summer 2016, the Constellations team undertook a full refurbishment of the space, stripping out the existing layout and re-visualising how the space could be. As a thoroughfare, the café lacked atmosphere and a personality – however, its position at the heart of the School of Art and Design required the space to work harder, both in terms of layout and in terms of design.

After numerous consultations with NTU’s Estates and Catering teams, Head of Design at Constellations, Chris Oswin, took inspiration from the industrial trend, introducing stripped woods to the panelling and tabletops. Turquoise tiling and mirrors were positioned to reflect the light pouring in from Bonington’s glass windows and ceiling. A dividing wall with lettering enclosed the café space, and hanging Edison lightbulbs were rigged to create atmospheric, warm lighting.

The Constellations team also designed and manufactured bespoke furniture, replacing standard tables and chairs with built-in counter seating and cosy booths. Long tables were introduced to encourage groups to gather and enjoy the space, as well as high stools along the counter tops to cater for those looking for a quick coffee stop.

The Constellations team also addressed issues that the catering team at the café had been experiencing with customer management, elongating the queuing system with a bespoke counter top and catering area, to ease queue congestion. Rather than a single order and collection point, the team developed a counter-top waiting area, alongside a purpose-built station for stirrers, sugar and coffee tops.

From the major details, such as management of the light, atmosphere and movement of customers through the space, to the minor details, such as the colour of the tiles and the size of the bulbs, the Constellations team offered a tailored design and manufacture service, drawing on their years of experience. The Constellations team have diversified and advanced over the years, developing a nationwide reputation for build and design quality.

Operations Director, Owen Dale, commented: “The team are pleased to have created for the University a space that truly reflects and meets the needs of their staff and students, and will be a well-used meeting space for years to come. We’re excited to take on projects that draw on all of our areas of expertise and capability, from space optimisation through to bespoke furniture design and manufacture.

The Bonington café is reflective of the team’s ability to think above and beyond a brief, and see the potential of how a space could function given the right design, layout and look-and-feel.”

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