Defining new teaching spaces with Forbo’s safety flooring

When Veale Associates was appointed to design the finish for the University of Winchester’s new Physiotherapy Centre, it turned to Forbo’s STEP safety flooring for durable, stylish design

Combining exceptional slip resistance with contemporary aesthetics, Forbo Flooring Systems’ STEP safety vinyl collection has helped to define and enhance the practical teaching space within the new state-of-the-art Physiotherapy Centre at the University of Winchester.

As part of the project team, Veale Associates was appointed to design the key finishes of the new physiotherapy facility housed inside the university’s high-profile building in Winchester city centre. The result was an impressive open-plan teaching space that is safe yet functional, while promoting a modern-day learning environment.

Eloise Veale, creative director at Veale Associates, said: “In the practical spaces where students would be using oils, liquids and lotions on a regular basis, specifying a safety flooring was essential in order to prevent any potential slips, trips and falls caused by accidental spillages. The client was keen to avoid a cold clinical environment often associated with these types of spaces and the issue with traditional safety flooring is that it can often be dull and uninspiring. Having used Forbo’s STEP safety flooring before, we knew that the unique and attractive solutions within the range could offer endless design opportunities, thanks to the wide array of contemporary colours and finishes available – and it was for this reason that we enlisted the help of Forbo’s products on this project.

“We primarily opted for a purple colour palette throughout the interior to reflect the university’s branding. Due to the nature of the large open-plan space, the university suggested that we use a few different colours for the floor, rather than just one solid colour, to make the room more interesting and visually appealing. Therefore, we proposed an organic design in three different colourways from the Surestep Original range – purple, violet and snow – which follows the contours of the room to add definition and fluidity to the space.”

Approximately 240 sq m of Surestep Original was installed in the physiotherapy practical teaching space with an additional 20 sq m of the violet colourway also used in the changing room. Delivering guaranteed R10 sustainable slip resistance for the lifetime of the product thanks to the Step Crystals in the wearlayer, Surestep is ideal for high-traffic areas susceptible to spillage risks.

Thanks to the hardwearing and durable properties of the safety flooring, the teaching space is able to withstand the weight of 19 treatment benches, which are lined up along the outskirts of the room. The PUR pearl finish on Surestep floor coverings ensures that it is easy to clean and maintain, while the micro-embossing technology reduces the need for chemical cleaning and increases the floor’s lifespan. What’s more, the range is 100% phthalate free, helping to create a healthier indoor environment.

Veale continued: “The new physiotherapy space at the University of Winchester looks fantastic and we are pleased with the outcome. We are particularly impressed by the unique flooring design as it really defines the space, but also complements the rest of the interior really well. 

We enjoy using Forbo’s STEP collection as there does not need to be any compromise when it comes to combining the two key elements of safety and design.”

Commenting on the installation of the safety flooring, Arend Kamping, managing director at Silverthorn, said: “The finished design looks amazing but wasn’t without its installation challenges. Due to the sweeping curves, which are the essence of the visual design, our installers had to create these by hand which proved to be quite difficult. However, thanks to Forbo’s technical output from the outset and the years of experience that we have in laying Forbo’s floor coverings, we were able to deliver the desired design that the client wanted.” 

Paul Burridge, head of projects and estate management at the University of Winchester, commented: “This is the first year that the new physiotherapy degree course has run, the key for us was to deliver first-class innovative teaching spaces in our new city centre premises and this has definitely met all of our aspirations for the central practical area. Currently we have 60 first year students who use the dedicated space on a daily basis. The students and staff are very happy with the design and finishes within the space; the flooring is not only visually striking and hardwearing but so far it has also been very easy to clean.”

Forbo Flooring Systems’ STEP safety collection offers vinyl solutions for a wide range of applications, including general walking areas, wet rooms and areas where maximum slip resistance is required. 

The products hold guaranteed lifetime slip resistance performance, having been tested to EN13845 and have been designed to offer complete design freedom with endless possibilities to create safe environments, without compromising on aesthetics.

Ideal for the education sector, where the safety of students is paramount, the Surestep collection includes the steel design, which has a metallic shimmer running throughout the surface, and brighter Surestep Laguna colours, which extend application areas beyond pure wetroom. What’s more, digitally printed options, such as ice cream and moon, provide that real ‘wow’ factor, as well as a bespoke option for areas that require a unique touch.

The Surestep Wood range features an embossed surface structure for a more natural look, while Surestep Original, which was used within the Physiotherapy Centre at the University of Winchester, contains 33 on-trend colours. The palettes of Safestep R11 and R12 have been refreshed to colour match each other and the R10 version.

For slip resistance and superior acoustic performance, the Surestep decibel range provides a selection of 12 contemporary colours across wood, stone and all over designs, all of which achieve 17dB impact sound reduction.

Although a true safety floor should always deliver outstanding durability and optimum sustainable slip resistance, and meet all prevailing safety flooring standards, it does not mean that the floor covering needs to be dull. Forbo’s STEP safety collection offers contemporary aesthetics, rather than the industrial looks that were often associated with this type of safety performance floor covering. And with the addition of unique Step Crystals, floor coverings are fresher and brighter, perfect for different requirements within education environments.

For more information on Forbo’s work in the education sector, please visit: or for more information on Forbo’s STEP safety collection, please visit:

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