An extensive package of Altro flooring and wall cladding products has been used top to bottom in the £18 million refurbishment of one of Newcastle’s most striking landmarks — the 11-storey Parsons Tower, which is part of Newcastle College.

The 1960s tower block is one of the first buildings to be seen when approaching Newcastle by road or rail. The recent refurbishment has given the building a striking contemporary gold and blue facade, as well as a new lease of life internally. The former sixth form block has been transformed into a multi-faceted, state-of-the-art teaching facility that incorporates exciting and stimulating learning environments to reflect 21st century needs.

These include real-life working experiences for the expanding curriculum of Health and Enterprise, with training environments such as hospital wards, childcare, domiciliary care and specialist care environments such as a sensory room, where the students can practice and develop their knowledge. The ground level and entrance area have been reconfigured to ensure the maximum use of space, and include a café, real working environments including two functioning ‘pop-up’ shops, and student services with an expansive learning resource center and refectory space on level one.

The refurbishment project was the brainchild of Redbox Design Group in Gateshead. Associate Sean Gallagher explains how specifying the right flooring and walling products for the new-look Parsons Tower was a vital part of the project.

“Parsons Tower is a physical beacon for Newcastle and the college, and therefore it had to satisfy a broad range of strict criteria both internally and externally,” Sean says. “We chose Altro flooring and wall cladding for the building for a number of reasons; we know Altro products very well, they are reliable, durable, superb quality and very cost effective against their competitors.

“More specifically, Altro has products that tick all the boxes in terms of health and safety, hygiene and colour choice. In addition, their infrastructure is excellent, which means they offer a complete package of guidance and support throughout the duration of the project.”

Sean continues: “Our aim was to select Altro flooring and wall cladding that would complement the internal colour scheme and design, while also meeting health and hygiene needs.

“For example, probably the most striking area of the tower is behind the refectory servery, where we specified vivid green Altro Whiterock ChameleonTM hygienic wall cladding. This was intended to be an eye-catching statement colour, but also a very practical, easy-to-clean solution for a food preparation area.”

Altro Whiterock Chameleon makes a bold statement. Glossy, vibrant and vividly colourful, the hygienic wall cladding is available in 16 high impact, high-design shades to add affordable luxury to a range of environments. Offering all the benefits of Altro WhiterockTM, Altro Whiterock Chameleon is very durable, with a smooth, watertight, wipeclean surface.

“We also chose Altro Wood SafetyTM flooring as an inlay into Altro WalkwayTM 20 safety flooring for the refectory,” adds Sean. “This created a wayfinding effect that was key to the ‘circulation’ theme we integrated into the entire building.”

Perfect for creating a comforting and familiar look, but without compromising on safety, Altro Wood Safety offers 16 wood-look designs, including classic, contemporary and on-trend — to vary moods from cool and classy to warm and nurturing. The flooring features Altro Easyclean Maxis PUR Technology for long term cleanability and easier maintenance.

Sean adds: “The colours we chose for floors and walls were mostly subtle, such as muted greys, but the crèche was the one area where we created a blue colour scheme. Here we specified Altro Walkway 20, Altro SupremaTM and Altro UnityTM 25 safety flooring, in colours to match the theme.”

Elsewhere, Sean specified Altro Suprema for the retail area, corridors, stairs, toilets and hospital ward; Altro Wood Safety in the breakout area on the top floor; Altro DesignerTM 25 safety flooring for the refectory back of house; Altro Unity 25 for the laboratories; Altro StrongholdTM 30 safety flooring and Altro Whiterock hygienic wall cladding for the kitchen; Altro Walkway 20 for the refectory storage area; and a Altro Walkway SD – a product laid with anti-static adhesive — for the IT suite.

Design-led Altro Suprema has been developed in consultation with colour consultants, architects and end users to reflect design requirements and interior trends. This non-sparkle safety flooring gives complete design freedom, with 40 shades to match any mood.

Altro Designer 25 is engineered with quartz, silicon carbide and aluminium trioxide for long-term durability and slip resistance, making it great for heavy duty environments with moveable or wheeled furniture. Available in practical, dirt-hiding colours featuring decorative coloured quartz, the product incorporates Altro Easyclean Original Technology for a lasting attractive appearance and savings in time and cleaning costs.

Altro Walkway 20 is a hugely popular, hard-wearing, 2mm safety flooring which provides lifelong slip and abrasion resistance. It also includes PUR cleanability, superior chemical and stain resistance.

Altro Unity 25 can be specified where long-lasting slip resistance and stain resistance are essential in heavy traffic areas. It contains aluminium trioxide and coloured quartz, and includes Altro Easyclean Maxis PUR technology for easier cleaning and maintenance.

Ideal for commercial kitchens, canteens, and food service and preparation areas, Altro Stronghold 30 achieves Altro’s highest rating for slip resistance and is designed to minimise risk in wet and greasy conditions for the lifetime of the flooring. As well as helping to keep staff safe from slips, it also helps reduce their fatigue, thanks to its 3mm thickness, which provides noise reduction and comfort underfoot.

Altro safety flooring products offer sustained slip resistance for the lifetime of the product, keeping your risk of a slip or fall to just one in a million.

Altro Whiterock White is the hygienic alternative to tiles that’s impact resistant, grout-free and easy to clean. Its smooth white surface and classical purity make it a timeless choice for any interior. Made from a high-quality, food-safe PVCu polymer, Altro Whiterock can handle temperatures up to 60°C. It meets all current European Union (EU) Directives on health and hygiene.

Altro Whiterock Premier Installer, Commercial Coverings, installed the wall cladding in Parsons Tower. Commercial Manager Kirk Hooker says: “Altro Whiterock is very easy to work with and it can be moulded to any shape. We cut the sheets to fit on site and thermoformed them around internal and external angles. Where the sheets meet, we used the hot welding method to create a nice finish.

“We have been working with Altro Whiterock for 20 years, and we have standardised on this product because we believe it’s the best on the market.”

Northern Floorcraft installed the Altro flooring within Parsons Tower. The company has been working with Altro for 45 years, installing their flooring in a wide variety of applications such as education, healthcare and retail.

Director Warren Pearson says: “This project was a significant size, and with 11 storeys to finish we had to work in very close co-operation with a number of other trades and the site manager to ensure we stuck to the schedule and produced a perfect result. Good communication skills are essential on projects of this size. We were on site for five months, with a team of between two and six fitters.

“The stairs in Parsons Tower are old and irregular, with complicated details, profiles and curves — no nice rectangles like modern stairs — and each set of stairs was different for each storey. So this part of the project involved a lot of time consuming and intricate cutting, and very precise fitting skills. For this reason were very glad we were fitting Altro Suprema on the stairs. This product is very pliable and great to work with, which made the whole task a great deal easier and quicker.

“Fitting the Altro Wood Safety and Altro Walkway inlay within the refectory was also a challenge, as we had to lay the flooring in three phases rather than all in one go — again because of working with other trades on site. This meant we had to take extra care to ensure that the ‘planks’ within the Altro Wood Safety design lined up exactly each time we fitted a new section. The project ran very smoothly, and this was helped a great deal by Altro, who gave us very hands-on support.”

The main contractor for Parsons Tower was BAM Construction. Senior Site Manager, Nathan Lynn, comments: “Both installers did a brilliant job on the flooring and walling for the refurbishment. They were very professional, co-operative and completed to schedule. The Altro Whiterock Chameleon in the refectory servery, in particular, looks very impressive and makes a real statement. A very successful project all round.”

Steve Johnson, General Estates Manager at Newcastle College’s parent company NCG comments: “We were very impressed with every aspect of the Altro flooring and wall cladding range. The wide variety of colours, designs and finishes gave the architect the flexibility to create an overall design theme within Parsons Tower, but with subtle variations that gave a different look and feel to each individual area.

“For example, the design of the wayfinding floor in the refectory space, using the wood effect and other safety flooring, works very well. The contrast between the two products creates a striking effect.

“But probably the most stunning Altro feature in Parsons Tower is the acid green walling behind the refectory servery. People comment on it all the time — it looks amazing and the colour has a real wow factor.”

Steve continues: “In terms of cleaning and maintenance, we have had nothing but positive feedback from our team about the Altro products throughout the building, so in terms of practicality it’s proving to be the right choice.

“Since it opened a few months ago, the students have told us that they love the look and feel of Parsons Tower, so it has been a total success.”

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