Integrated flooring schemes for student accommodation

A student’s living environment can play a major role in defining their university experience. Therefore, getting the design of student accommodation buildings right is vital, says Elizabeth Bushell, key account manager (multi-unit housing and student accommodation) at Forbo Flooring Systems.

For young people heading off to university, many of whom will be leaving their family home for the first time, their student accommodation needs to feel like a home away from home. As students seek a high quality, safe space to live, where they can study and socialise, the design of the building and the specification of interior finishes is integral in achieving this – and the choice of floor coverings is no exception.

From communal living spaces and gyms to private bedrooms and studios, individual areas within the building will have their own unique set of requirements. Students nowadays also expect interior products with better quality finishes, so any floor coverings that are chosen should be functional, comfortable, easy to maintain and robust, whilst, crucially, still contributing to the wider design theme of the project.

Understanding this balance between performance and design was multi-disciplined design studio, Upcircle, which was tasked with designing Fresh Student Living’s latest development, Tudor Place in Chester. Taking inspiration from the city’s history and architecture, Upcircle utilised Forbo Flooring Systems’ portfolio of solutions to create a beautifully integrated flooring scheme that captured the traditional charm of the Tudor period.

Ophélia Gisquet, head of interior design at Upcircle, said: “As Tudor architecture is symbolic of Chester, it was only fitting that we took inspiration from this in the design concept of this project. Tudor buildings were typically constructed using English oak timbers, then painted with black tar for protection from the weather, therefore we wanted to incorporate a mix of natural wooden effects with contrasting colours throughout the interior.

“Combining the aesthetics of natural wood with the benefits of strong and comfortable vinyl, we specified several colourways in various plank sizes from the Allura Wood LVT collection for a variety of spaces on the ground floor. In the reception area, multi-media room and meeting spaces, we used Allura Wood in the Deep Country Oak colourway which effortlessly provided an elegant feel and rustic touch to these spaces. The product’s in-register embossing really brought the wood designs to life.”

“Contrast was key for this project. Therefore, in the gym, we chose the soft and subtle White Autumn Oak shade, which would provide a monochrome effect against the dark pieces of training equipment. In the study space, the same colourway worked perfectly alongside the vibrant orange wallpaper and banquet arrangement seating.”

The natural wooden effect of the large Allura Wood LVT planks in Waxed Oak was used throughout the social space in conjunction with Allura feature strips in Black to further mimic the style of Tudor architecture.

Ophélia continued: “At Upcircle, sustainability is a huge part of our ethos and we always make a conscious effort to use eco-friendly materials in our designs, where possible. For this reason, one of our favourite products from the Forbo portfolio is Marmoleum. Taking inspiration from a traditional black and white Tudor house, we used Marmoleum Modular in a unique modular design, where the oversized geometric graphic grid allowed us to create a stunning feature space in the area where the reception desks are located.”

Manufactured from 97% natural raw materials and confirmed as CO2 neutral – without offsetting (weighted average of the Marmoleum portfolio, cradle to gate) – Marmoleum is one of the most sustainable floor coverings available on the market. Combining durability, high quality, innovative design and sustainability, Marmoleum is also naturally bacteriostatic throughout its life and, as an Allergy UK-approved floor covering, it contributes to a better indoor environment for all.

Ophélia continued: “Students will be spending a lot of time in their bedrooms, studios and kitchens, whether they are sleeping, relaxing, studying or socialising. Therefore, reducing noise pollution and sound being transmitted through the floors in these areas was vital for us, to ensure the comfort and wellbeing of the tenants.

“We opted for Forbo’s Sarlon Acoustic Vinyl in Hazelnut, as the acoustic floor covering delivers excellent sound reduction of up to 19dB, whilst the natural and timeless look of the floor still ties in with the Tudor theme.”

What’s more, in the corridors where acoustic comfort was also key, Fresh Student Living requested the use of a carpet tile, as its modular format allows for easy maintenance. Renowned for their aesthetic styling and outstanding performance, even in the most demanding of heavy traffic environments, Tessera Diffusion in Space Quest was installed for its softer, more organic geometric design. Inspired by crystalline structures, the fractal shapes fade in and out, creating appealing contemporary floor spaces for the student accommodation complex.

Mo Ali, head of operations (north-west) at Fresh Student Living, commented: “Upcircle had full reign of the branding and interior design at Tudor Place, and we are really pleased with the result. Through the use of high quality furniture and furnishings, such as Forbo’s array of floor coverings, they have been able to create comfortable and cosy spaces that are still functional for students to live, work, relax and play.”

For more information about Forbo’s work in the education sector, please visit or for more information on how to enter the Fly Forbo 2020/21 competition, visit

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