Specifier Review
Altro Floors & Walls ensure award-winning Ferndene is ideal healing environment

Altro Floors & Walls ensure award-winning Ferndene is ideal healing environment

A wide selection of Altro floors and walls have been used in the award-winning Ferndene Children and Young People’s Centre to create a healing environment that is visually stunning, as well as safe, hard-wearing and hygienic.

Situated on the fringes of Northumberland’s countryside, Ferndene Children and Young People’s Centre is a purpose-built £25 million inpatient centre, which provides assessment and treatment for young people with complex health, behavioural and emotional needs, including those with learning disabilities. Ferndene is the first such integrated service of its kind in the country.

The project, which totals 6,000m², was conceived as a ‘hand-shaped’ design, with four bedroom blocks spanning out as ‘fingers’ from a central activity building in the palm.

All the young people have their own bedrooms, most of which have en-suite facilities. There is also a wide range of therapy, educational, social and recreational facilities; a flat for visiting families; and office accommodation for staff.

The centre has won a host of accolades, including International Academy of Design and Health’s Best Mental Health Design, Best Innovation and Budget award category for the Society of British Interior Design, and the Building Better Healthcare Best Use of the Arts award.

Scott Stewart, Interior Designer at Medical Architecture, which designed the centre, said: “We chose Altro for this project for a number of reasons. Firstly, our relationship with them goes back many years and we trust their products. Also, for a project like Ferndene we needed the floors and walls to meet specific requirements; they had to comply with a number of regulations such as slip ratings, cleanability and life cycle. This is a young person’s mental health unit, so safety is paramount and it must be able to withstand pretty much anything thrown at it – quite literally.

“But in addition to the basics, we wanted a product range that would give us the freedom and flexibility to create and design a colourful and therapeutic healing environment. This is where Altro stands out from its competitors, its products deliver the total package; they are tough, great to look at and give us superb choice of styles, textures and colours.

“The patients and staff helped us choose colours and designs through focus groups, in sessions where they could feel and see samples of the products, and in this way we selected two key colours as a theme for each of the five buildings in the centre. It was vital to us that the residents were involved in the concept from the start.”

Altro Suprema
® 2011 Jill Tate

Altro Suprema IITM safety flooring was used in kitchens, bathroom areas and back of house. In Ferndene’s ‘secure’ environments, Altro smooth flooring was used with Altro Everlay B, an acoustic cushioned underlay which reduces noise.

Offering an impressive palette of 40 colours, design-led Altro Suprema II creates any mood, from subtle to bold and inventive and is perfect for areas where safety flooring isn’t traditionally used. The product has been developed in consultation with customers, architects, end users and colour consultants, taking into account current, future and interior trends.

The sparkle-free finish makes Altro Suprema II ideal for installation in dementia and mental health applications. It also incorporates Altrosan bacteriostat for enhanced hygiene.

Altro smooth flooring is a decorative and hard-wearing flooring which features subtle and abstract patterns. These add a design element, while simultaneously increasing the soil-hiding properties of the floor. Particularly suitable for heavy use areas, it is ideal for areas where high standards of cleanliness are important. It is easy to clean, with a permanent PUR finish for added protection.

Scott added: “We used a great deal of Altro WhiterockTM wall cladding throughout the centre, both on walls and ceilings. It provides a seamless, hygienic solution that is very reliable.

“In non-patient areas we selected the white Altro Whiterock for wet areas and splash-backs. For patient areas we went for the Altro Whiterock ChameleonTM, Altro Whiterock SatinsTM and Altro Whiterock IllusionsTM ranges, which gave us the flexibility to be much more colourful and create themes.”

Altro Whiterock is a cost-effective sheet extruded from a high quality PVCu polymer. It is easy to clean, impact resistant and grout-free. It meets all current EU Directives on health and hygiene.

With vibrant solid colours, or more natural tones in high gloss finish, Altro Whiterock Chameleon is designed to make a bold and confident statement. Its broad palette can be used to create a variety of effects to suit any mood, either as a primary focus or as an accent to an existing wall. It is highly durable and provides a water-tight, wipe-clean smooth surface.

Altro Whiterock Satins is a durable, grout-free water-tight smooth wall cladding designed to meet strict hygiene standards. The panels provide a stain-free surface with no gaps or cracks for bacteria to hide in. It is extremely impact resistant and ideal for tough areas.

Altro Whiterock Illusions is a patterned extruded sheet providing a cost-effective decorative panel. Four pattern finishes combined with four coloured sheets to provide 16 subtle shades to choose from.

Ferndene’s ‘chill out’ rooms are areas where patients can be as quiet or as noisy as they want. “Here, we specified Altro rubber flooring because it’s tough, yet very comfortable underfoot,” added Scott.

The Altro flooring at Ferndene was installed by FPL Ltd. Owner Ian White commented: “This was a large and quite complex project and it was necessary to work closely with other contractors over a long period of time. We had a team of three consultants and eight fitters and it took us three to four months overall to complete. The finished results looked superb. Altro is a very professional company to work with and we have a close relationship with them.”

The Altro Whiterock wall cladding was installed by Commercial Coverings Ltd. Peter Wilson, Joint MD, said: “We have been installing Altro Whiterock in healthcare environments for 18 years, it’s the majority or our work, so we are used to projects of this size. It was great to be involved in such a prestigious job where so many different types of Altro Whiterock were used for specific areas. It’s a very popular product because it’s ideal for healthcare applications – seamless, hygienic, easy to clean and it looks great, too.

“The key to this type of installation is optimum patient safety, which means no sharp edges and complete compliance will all types of legislation. Altro is very well versed with these requirements – that’s why Altro Whiterock is such an important product for projects like Ferndene.”

Danni Littlewood, Assistant Capital Projects Officer at Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which funded the project, commented: “The Altro Suprema II and Altro Whiterock products were chosen for the scheme because of their durability and we have used them before very successfully on Trust projects. They are easy to clean, provide the suitable safety levels and come in a wide range of colours to complement any design.

“The children chose different colour schemes for the four ward blocks, so that although the wards were merging into one facility, they each kept their own identity. This added a challenge for the designers to maintain the same finishes across the facility, using different colour options on each of the wards.

“The colour variation in the Altro ranges provided great assistance to this process, and we were confident in the quality and durability of the products we were installing. The finishes are standing up very well against the day-to-day use you would expect in a hospital, and allow us to provide safe and well co-ordinated environments.

“The children were very excited to move into the new facility, along with staff, who were moving to new office spaces which much improved the opportunity of departmental integration.”