Christchurch Boys' High School
Using rubber to enhance the flow at Christchurch Boys’ High School.
In creating two new learning facilities for Christchurch Boys’ High School, Athfield Architects have made stairwells a prominent feature, using Neoflex rubber flooring from Advance to manifest a sense of movement in and between the buildings.
The twin two-storey blocks, Caddick and Caldwell, are situated around a central quad accessed by a series of open, glass-fronted stairwells. ‘Stairwells are typically expressed at corners and act as entrance markers around the school,’ says Charles Collins of Athfield Architects. ‘They are clearly seen and referenced from outdoor spaces, providing good visibility and a means of wayfinding.’
Caddick Block has 22 modern learning classrooms as well as a learning commons, library and music department, while Caldwell Block is a dedicated science facility with 12 labs. Each of the stairwells can be used by up to 700 students in short periods. Such high traffic required a flooring material that would provide durability, comfort and sound-damping properties. The RS100 range of 100% recycled EPDM rubber from Neoflex was the ideal solution.
‘The transparent treatment of stairwells helps to express movement both internally and externally,’ says Collins. ‘Stairwell spaces open to ground levels and connect directly with external quad spaces; this creates open, collegial spaces while accommodating the busy flows experienced during the school day.’ The use of Neoflex rubber flooring seamlessly connects these spaces, with directionless sheets that finish with no visible joins.
Collins describes the stairwells as ‘gold boxes’, on account of their pine plywood walls and gold anodised lighting pendants, which act as beacons when viewed from outside. ’Stairwells are positioned to receive sunlight, so we’ve used materials that complement this.’ The rubber provides a dark contrast to further enhance and highlight the warm golden timber accents.
As well as its aesthetic appeal, Neoflex was chosen for both its resilience and acoustic properties. The rubber is soft underfoot, with a nice flex. This cushioning significantly reduces impact noise, which is such an important factor in the public spaces of a learning campus.
Project: Christchurch Boys High School
Architect: Athfield Architects
Product: Neoflex RS100 100% recycled EPDM
Photographer: Dennis Radermacher