A new centre for pupils on the autism spectrum at a school in Bedfordshire has been hailed as exemplary and praised by experts in Special Educational Needs (SEN) for its innovative design, which uses colourful carpets from Heckmondwike FB to meet the special visual and spatial needs of its pupils.
The new Nightingale Centre, which has become part of the specialist provision for autistic pupils at Mark Rutherford secondary school, features 240m2 of Supacord fibre bonded carpet. The carpet was specified by Mark Ellerby Architects in two carefully selected colours to create a calming, yet visually interesting, floor design.
The school has achieved a BREEAM Very Good rating thanks in part to the use of Supacord, which has a Building Research Establishment (BRE) Global A+ environmental rating for use in school buildings, offices and retail outlets.
Onyx and Kingfisher colourways were chosen to complement the green-blue colour scheme that runs throughout the school, creating a visually interesting aesthetic which avoids overwhelming the pupils, considering that colours can be particularly powerful and emotive for children on the autism spectrum. The centre provides the school with two additional classrooms, a computer room, kitchen and sensory room.
Supacord in Onyx was used throughout the corridors and classrooms, helping pupils to identify their classroom, whilst Supacord in Kingfisher was used in the sensory room and staff room to create flexible spaces for specific learning situations and social activities. The colourful flooring design will help pupils to find their way around the school by creating a series of spaces that can be easily understood and remembered, which is important for maintaining a sense of well being and familiarity which calms the pupils.
Project Architect Mark Ellerby said: "In addition to the well known durability and robustness of Supacord fibre bonded carpet, the colour range was ideal for creating a visually pleasing design which engages with the pupils whilst also having a calming effect. The choice of colours available from Heckmondwike also helped us to meet Part M regulations by creating sufficient contrast between the colour of the walls and that of the carpet."
Mark Ellerby added: “The school has been praised by specialists as exemplary, both in terms of plan arrangement and colours. The flooring design was central to this achievement and so it was vital for the carpet to be high-quality and durable, to ensure that it retains its appearance and won’t be costly for the school to maintain.”
Supacord is widely specified for education buildings because it is renowned for its durability, helping to withstand areas of heavy wear and tear. Supacord also offers anti-slip and antistatic properties, both of which are a major concern for schools which are looking to protect their students and their equipment.
The robust properties of fibre bonded carpet, which will not ravel or fray, allowed contractors Richardson and Peat to cut the Supacord carpet on site to create a unique circular design in the sensory room, creating a flexible space whilst reducing the cost of installation.
Mark Ellerby explained: "Supacord proved to be a cost-effective solution and helped us to achieve a build cost per square metre that is well under normal building costs for such specialist education facilities, proving that it is still possible to achieve high quality design at a sensible build cost."
Supacord is also compatible with F40 high tack adhesive which provides a sustainable and cost-effective end-of-life solution allowing carpet to be lifted without causing significant damage to the floorcovering or subfloor.
Heckmondwike FB is one of the leading carpet suppliers to the education, commercial and public sectors and is well-known for the excellent value, durability and high performance of its products.
Sample cards for Supacord are available on request by calling +44  1924 413637 or visiting the website www.heckmondwike-fb.co.uk.