An open-plan culture for BCU

Interface delivers timeless flooring design for Birmingham City University

Global modular flooring manufacturer, Interface, has helped Birmingham City University (BCU) create a contemporary, open-plan culture for its Vice Chancellor’s Office and some of its Professional Services departments by providing a robust flooring solution that would withstand the test of time for its new base, University House.

The project saw BCU relocate some 200 staff, including the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, the International Office, and the Marketing team, to a new home in a refurbished five-storey office building in the heart of Birmingham.

As part of the move, the university wanted to change from a traditional cellular working culture to a new open-plan approach. Break-out spaces, an honesty coffee bar and a café, as well as other communal meeting points, were created to encourage team work and creativity. To reflect this transformation, BCU wanted a modern interior that would bring the space together harmoniously. Another key requirement for the project was that the flooring should be able to withstand heavy use – it needed to be durable and easy to maintain in order to ensure it stayed looking good for as long as possible.

“University House was intended to be BCU’s shop window to attract new business partners, as well as provide an enjoyable and comfortable place to work for staff,” explained Kevin Singh, a Professor at BCU and Architect at The Space Studio, the firm leading the renovation.

“With this in mind, the Vice-Chancellor requested an interior with a fresh, corporate feel that would stand the test of time, and stay looking smart despite the heavy footfall.”

University House was intended to be BCU’s shop window to attract new business partners, as well as provide an enjoyable and comfortable place to work for staff

BCU has a long-standing relationship with Interface, so had no doubt that it would be able to provide the right flooring solution. The Space Studio worked closely with Andrew Raisen, Account Manager at Interface, to create the ideal floor design for the building, using the manufacturer’s Urban Retreat collection.

The Urban Retreat 303 Ash flooring tile was chosen for use across the whole building. Using a single, striking shade throughout the interior helps to unite all the individual zones in the development into a single office, encouraging workers to use the entire space, including communal areas, without feeling restricted to their own desk or pod. The solution’s eye-catching linen-like texture complements the elegant décor and furnishings, creating a modern, yet ageless, look.

Selecting a modular flooring solution for the building also meant that the installation was simple and straight forward for the contractors carrying out the renovation work, GTH Construction, enabling it to complete the project within a very tight timeframe.

Singh added: “Using a modular solution also means that individual tiles can be easily replaced once they are worn, rather than needing to fit a full new carpet. This is ideal for a busy office environment like University House, helping to cut maintenance costs, while minimising the impact of daily wear and tear on the look of the space.

“The brief for the renovated space was a timeless interior, and the Interface product helped us to deliver this. The flooring unifies the whole space into a single office, rather than a host of small workspaces, which really helps to support an open-plan culture.”


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