University of the Arts London

Over 1,600m² of Harlequin Activity sprung flooring has been used to create four stunning performance spaces at the new £145million King’s Cross Campus for the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design – providing world class facilities to 5,000 students whose University alumni include actors Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and John Hurt.

Designed by Stanton Williams Architects, the building was named Winner of the Architects’ Journal AJ100 Building of the Year 2012 and described as “quite simply the finest building completed by an AJ100 practice in the past year”. For a series of flexible theatre, drama and rehearsal spaces, theatre consultants Drama by Design worked with fit-out contractor Overbury to complete full design, specification and project management services.

With flexibility, durability and quality of utmost importance for four multi-use spaces totalling 1,656m² – more than eight times the size of a typical dance floor installation - Drama by Design turned to the expertise, knowledge and product range of Harlequin Floors.

For the main KX Platform Theatre, set to host a wide range of events from rock concerts to ballet performances, Harlequin supplied 351m² of its Harlequin Activity sprung floor system with a Weitzer Parquet Oak surface – blending seamlessly into the stylish interior. As part of the specification, the floor also had to be customised to accommodate an orchestra pit, with a section of floor which could be manually lowered and raised when required.

With budgetary restraints ruling out a full hydraulic system, Harlequin Floors, Steeldeck and Drama by Design worked together to develop an innovative, customised and cost-effective solution – incorporating 21m x 3m high Steeldeck platforms. These could be removed completely, or manually lowered, to offer access to the understage storage space and an orchestra pit infill system.

During the creation of two multi-purpose workshop spaces with striking monochrome interiors, Harlequin once again fitted the bill with 101m² and 56m² of Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in white and black respectively. Supplied to perfectly complement the decor, it was combined with the Harlequin Activity sprung floor system to offer optimum levels of robustness, versatility and longevity.

For the studio theatre space, another 160m² of Harlequin Activity sprung floor was specified, finished with engineered maple. To complete the 1,656m² project, Harlequin Activity flooring was specified, supplied and installed for six additional rehearsal spaces. Based on a revolutionary triple 'sandwich' composite construction, Harlequin Activity flooring completely eliminates the need for metal springs and rubber pads and as it is a fully floating system with no fixings, it can be laid on almost any surface without preparation. 

“Harlequin provides unrivalled specialist knowledge in the creation of performance spaces,” said Andrew Stone, Theatre Consultant at Drama by Design. “They have the experience to offer excellent advice and are always focused on providing the most suitable solution for each individual project.”

Now home to 5,000 students and staff, the King’s Cross Campus forms the focal point of a new 67 acre development that is the largest undertaken in London for 150 years.  Working closely with Drama by Design, Harlequin Floors has ensured the architectural masterpiece has matching world-class facilities for its teaching, experimenting and performance spaces.