Altro flooring and wall cladding are providing a total, high-level solution of hygiene, safety and contemporary style at a new state-of-the-art science and engineering centre at the University of Wolverhampton.
Designed and equipped to offer cutting-edge teaching and research facilities to future scientists, the new £25m Rosalind Franklin Building has been fitted with Altro WhiterockTM hygienic wall cladding, AltroScreed QuartzTM resin flooring, and Altro Designer TM 25 safety flooring.
The bronze-clad building was designed by architect Berman Guedes Stretton. Their vision was to create a contemporary structure that would support modern learning and revitalise the surrounding area. The architects’ Principal Director, Gary Collins, explains how they realised this vision. “Science and technology is a huge growth area at the university, both in terms of student demand for courses, and also because local industry in that field is on the up. This meant the university wanted to invest in a teaching and research facility that could meet this increasing need and provide the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art experience, both in terms of structure and the resources and equipment inside.
“The products we used needed to meet a number of criteria. Wall cladding for the labs had to be hygienic, easy to maintain and have real impact to complement our design for a modern contemporary space. Altro Whiterock is the industry standard for this type of requirement, and we and the scientific community know and trust it. We specify it all the time, so this was our number one choice.”
Altro Whiterock hygienic wall cladding is a cost-effective, durable, grout-free, water-tight smooth hygienic wall cladding system designed for building environments that are required to meet strict hygiene standards. The panels provide a stain resistant, wipe-clean surface with no gaps or cracks for bacteria to hide in. It is extremely impact resistant and ideal for tough areas. It meets current EU Directives on health and hygiene.
Gary Collins adds: “We specifically wanted resin flooring for the ground floor and reception area. It needed to be durable, ideal for heavy traffic areas, robust and resistant to chemicals, yet also attractive, decorative and contemporary in its look.
“We went to Coventry Transport Museum with Altro and the main contractor Kier to take a look at the AltroScreed Quartz resin flooring fitted in reception, to see for ourselves how it could work in practice.
“We were very impressed that it was both tough and attractive, and easy to clean. We spoke to their maintenance staff and they assured us that even after sump oil spillages and heavy vehicles driving over it, the flooring came up like new. On this basis we decided it would be the perfect flooring for the Rosalind Franklin Building too.
“As part of that same visit we also asked Altro to give some guidance about safety flooring for the labs and upper floors of the Rosalind Franklin Building. The brief was to find a product that was hard-wearing, hygienic, one that could resist chemical spillages and be very safe underfoot, but with a contemporary design that would fit in with our vision.
“They showed us Altro Designer 25 and it ticked all the boxes. We were particularly impressed that it can be hot welded to produce flooring that is impervious to dirt. Plus, at 2.5mm thick, it can stand the test of time against heavy footfall, and resist chemicals in the lab.”
AltroScreed Quartz is a solvent-free system in which blended decorative quartz is bound with clear epoxy resin and finished with clear seal coats. The product provides a high-strength, chemically resistant decorative floor surface that can be coved and laid to drainage falls. It is available in nominal thicknesses of 4mm to 6mm. It has low slip resistance and is ideally suited to medium-duty production areas, entrance lobbies, offices, shops, circulation areas and laboratories. It has a closed surface texture that reduces dirt retention, making it easy to clean and maintain. The floor was sealed with Altro Screed Seal Rapicure Plus, providing additional slip resistance.
Altro Designer 25 is a 2.5mm thick hard-wearing safety flooring that includes coloured quartz crystals in striking base colour to enhance any interior scheme. Easy to lay, it can be hot welded to produce an unobtrusive and impervious floor, minimising the ingress of dirt and helping to maintain hygiene standards. It also boasts long-term durability and excellent slip resistance, which make it ideal for medium to heavy-duty environments.
Kier appointed Polydeck Resins to install the AltroScreed Quartz system. Director of Polydeck Resins, Gavin Tidball, says: “Laying of the decorative resin system requires experienced fully trained operatives working through the various stages of the installation having an eye for detail to ensure the high standard of finishes can be delivered to our client.
“As this was a new build scheme part of which was on top of an existing ground floor base, we needed to prepare the floor first, and an area of 400m2,of polymer screed was installed to create a flat surface betweeen the new and old slabs. Once this had cured sufficiently, we applied the AltroProof DPM primer, then the AltroScreed Quartz base and finally the clear seals to finish.
“Given the project was fast track we used the Rapicure version of the Altro resin, which meant we could complete the work in good time and free-up the area for other contractors.
“We also created coved skirting to the perimeter walls, so there was a smooth finish throughout, laying the base screed in one application to avoid any joints or seams to the cove and floor interfaces. The project took about two weeks to complete and we worked closely with Kier and Altro, who gave us great support throughout.”
Kier also appointed specialist floors and walls contractor, Pinnacle, to install the Altro Whiterock, and Altro Designer 25 in the new build. Pinnacle’s longstanding relationship with both Altro and Kier was instrumental in the final choice of products.
Pinnacle MD, Scott Myers, says: “The architect specified Altro from the outset, but this was such a high-profile project that there was, naturally, a great deal of interest from other flooring and walling manufacturers as well.
“We have worked closely with Altro for many years, and in our experience their products are second to none in terms of quality and reliability — but they also offer colours, textures and overall solutions that can deliver visual appeal in the most innovative and challenging design projects. There is a great deal of confidence in the industry for Altro and their reputation is well deserved
“Kier is also a longstanding partner for us, and we were able to demonstrate to them that, for a project of this size and significance, Altro had the product range that could meet all the client’s practical needs, and also deliver the design impact they wanted to achieve.
“Budget was also a key factor in the decision-making process, and Altro proved to be a very cost-effective solution overall.”
Scott Myers continues: “The installation programming was quite complex in terms of scheduling and sequencing. This was due to the number of mechanical and electrical services that had to be installed on site before we could gain access. It was all about co-operation, but everyone worked very well together.
“Altro flooring and walling products are simple and straightforward to install, which is one of the reasons we like using the products. Firstly we prepared the floors prior to fitting, and this was a fairly standard process of scarifying the floor to create a clean, smooth surface, laying an epoxy dpm, then finally a Latex smoothing compound.
“There was a large quantity of product to install; 3,600m² of Altro Designer 25, and 1,400m² of Altro Whiterock.”
The University’s Maintenance Manager, Neil Howells, comments: “We are very happy with the completed job. The Altro products reflect the cutting edge design of the building, providing vision and opportunity for our students. We are sure that the choices made by the architects will prove as practical as they are aesthetically pleasing — early indications appear to support this viewpoint.
“Phase One of the build has been in use since September 2014, and the products have been performing well in that time. Feedback from our cleaning and maintenance team has also been very positive, with no problems, and the flooring and walling still looks as good as they did nine months ago.
“I would recommend the use of Altro as quality products that give competitive whole life value for money, and the professional helpful technical support that is readily provided. In short; a valued supplier.”