Creating a great space

Creating a great space

The importance of flooring in educational settings

Today, the finishes you choose for your learning environments goes far beyond the basic requirements of an adequately comfortable room. Studies have shown that the physical aspects of a classroom such as colour, light, texture, and air quality significantly impact a student’s learning with a potential boost of up to 16% when implemented thoughtfully. The focus and indeed health of those using the space can be improved, as well as contributing to more sustainable choices. Flooring has a key part to play to any successful education space. At Shaw Contract, we anticipate these needs by offering flooring solutions that are fit for purpose, helping to create the most effective learning environment for students and supporting staff alike.

Creating a great space
Shaw Contract carpet tiles are Cradle to Cradle certified and manufactured in the UK. Available in in a range of styles and colours, they offer a whole range of design possibilities. With the added benefit of providing wayfinding and zoning of spaces using colour, texture and pattern, carpet tiles provide the foundation for an environment that optimises engagement, supports teaching, and inspires learning.

In collaboration with lead contractors, BAM Construction, Shaw Contract carpet tiles were specified for Castle Mead Academy, a 1,200-place eight form entry site for the Mead Educational Trust. Carpet tiles from Shaw’s Auxiliary collection were specified for interior spaces including the library and study rooms within the new Academy. Inspired by the transitions in nature, the Auxiliary collection features cool to warm tones that help to promote a sense of calm, making this collection ideal for creating an atmosphere for learning. Styles Feature and Complement in a mix of grey and blue shades were used to introduce a subtle interplay of colour and pattern in the spaces.

Focus-friendly environments
Occupant health and wellbeing is a critical consideration for productive learning environments. Our ability to learn suffers when we struggle to understand what is being said or there is excessive noise that breaks our concentration. Acoustics and noise disturbance significantly impact teaching and learning processes, particularly in earlier education where sound production (learning to pronounce the sounds that form language) is essential.

Shaw Contract’s ComfortWorx™ tile backing, made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, is designed to provide improved impact sound reduction and sound absorption over standard carpet tile and hard surfaces. It provides excellent sound insulation and underfoot comfort. After installation, there was a recorded 65% improvement in sound absorption on some styles compared with our standard TaskWorx® tiles, making ComfortWorx™ backing an option that provides for both durability and ergonomic benefits.

Healthy classrooms
Occupant comfort covers a spectrum of key aspects for healthy environments. A significant element under this umbrella is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Studies have shown that maintaining good IAQ facilitates regular brain development. The importance of meeting indoor emissions requirements and analysis of their material ingredients cannot be overlooked – particularly in educational settings, with the chief medical officer for the UK recently warning that the dirty air inside buildings may contribute to nearly as many deaths as outdoor air pollution.

With a firm commitment to material health, Shaw Contract carpet tiles meet strict European compliance for low VOC products and are all independently verified for use by European testing body Eurofins. Cradle-to-Cradle certified also means throughout the production process material health and ingredients are a core focus. Shaw Contract’s carpet tiles made in the UK, and our Nordic Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT), also available as part of our In Stock UK programme, all achieve Indoor Air Comfort Gold.

Lifecycle considerations
With an increased focus on safety and hygiene, maintenance and cleaning considerations are key for education environments.

A substantial number of scientific studies have found that chemicals, including VOCs, are emitted from cleaning and sanitising products. Yet proper vacuuming is the important process in the maintenance of carpet tiles, requiring no chemical cleaning processes.

Shaw Contract’s Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) feature our high- performance, low-maintenance ExoGuardTM finish which creates a barrier against dirt, scuffs, and stains. No polish, no buff LVT products require little lifetime maintenance, and no use of solvents and waxes, while still meeting the needs of high traffic zones such as corridors or break areas.

Moving from quiet areas to activity areas and/or wet areas you can create easy transitions that are seamless across the floor. No transition strips are needed between carpet tiles and 5mm LVT solutions. We can provide you with guidance on how to maintain your flooring and all our carpet tiles come with a 15-year guarantee.

As the saying goes, “What goes around, comes around”, that’s why Shaw is committed to partnering with our customers and providing products that can also be re-used, recycled or repurposed too at end of life. The re[TURN] Take-back scheme makes it easy to get the process started. Since 2006, almost 1 billion pounds of carpet tiling has been recycled through the scheme.

Case Study – Smeaton Building at Plymouth University
Shaw Contract’s Colour Construct carpet tile collection along with Graph tiles from Rapid Select combine to create a design feature in a recent refurbishment project at the University of Plymouth. Bringing both colour and acoustic benefits to this educational building, the installation demonstrates how colour and contrast can be used to maximum effect.

The project undertaken was to refurbish the corridors in a 1960’s engineering building on the Plymouth University Campus called the Smeaton Building. The existing floor had been installed for several years and was durable, however it provided a very cold, sterile and “echoey” feeling in this interior. The decision was to switch to a softer finish to provide a more modern and comfortable experience for students.

Shaw Contract’s visualisation team produced a range of different design layouts which were presented to stakeholders in the project. The preferred design uses a mixture of mid and dark grey tone Graph tiles, and then intersperses accent colours at random, using style Pixel Square tiles from the Colour Construct collection.

The bold Orange, Chartreuse, Aqua and Magenta colours from Colour Construct were used as a reference for matching paint colours which then were used in the doorways along the various corridors. The result is a lively way to encourage flow and zones the flooring layout and provides acoustic comfort for those moving in and around the space.

The client commented: “We selected Shaw Contract as our partner for this project as they are a UK manufacturer with a very strong sustainability message. This fitted in with our criteria for a supplier, as well as having options for attractive ranges at the right price points.”

With flooring specification underpinning some of the most important aspects of health learning environments, it is also important that these products are readily available for educational projects. In recent years, Shaw has seen a significant boost in the desire or such products and has responded with the In Stock UK programme - a simple solution for flooring contractors and building and estates managers that meets the needs of fast turnaround projects.

The In Stock UK programme provides a specially curated range of options, such as the Auxiliary carpet tile collection, as well as other products ideal for school learning environments, stocked in the UK for quick dispatch within 24 hours of an order acknowledgement for account holders.

In conclusion, Shaw Contract is the ideal partner to help you design and build a healthy and more inspiring educational environment. The importance of using the appropriate flooring in classrooms cannot be overlooked. Shaw Contract is a trusted partner in education. Our expertise comes from strong understanding of the needs of the architecture and interior design community, purchasing, facilities and maintenance departments.

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