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New workspace provides running track for employees

14 May 2024

As employers and FMs get together to decide how best to entice workers back to the office, One Strawberry Lane has come up with an interesting idea - provide them with a running track!

As one of the UK’s largest housing associations, Home Group is committed to providing the very best environments for its 125,000 residents to live in and flourish. So, when it came to fitting out its new headquarters in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and with its status as one of the UK’s top five Best Workplaces 2022 to live up to, the organisation needed to deliver an unbeatable working environment for its team. 
 
Home Group brought together expertise from fit-out specialist Overbury, DLA Architecture, interior design firm Ward Robinson and the concept design team at global flooring manufacturer Interface to create a revived and energetic workplace that staff would be proud to call home. The company also realised its vision for a community hub and workspaces for not-for-profit organisations. Here’s how they made it happen. 
 
Hitting the ground running  
 
“It’s not every day you’re asked to design a running track for a workspace,” said concept designer at Interface. “But that was the vision of Home Group’s CEO Mark Henderson, and we couldn’t wait to bring it to life! To set the space apart when it came to health and wellbeing, the client had requested a custom running track that would run around the office on levels three, four and five and we knew just the product that would make it a reality.” 
 
Interface’s noraplan uni rubber flooring was laser cut at the nora factory and features on the outer edge of each floor to get people moving and introduce activity to the daily routine. Interface’s concept design team selected bold yellow and light grey for the track to contrast with the organic textures and neutral tones chosen for the rest of the office – allowing the running track to be the most striking element of the design while aiding wayfinding throughout the whole scheme. Crucially, noraplan uni features sound absorption that’s designed specifically for high footfall environments, reducing sound impact between floors and ensuring action for some doesn’t mean distraction for others.  
 
Wellbeing by default             
 
After a prolonged period of remote working, Home Group needed to ensure its new workplace would support employees’ wellbeing, which meant incorporating some of the comforts and routines employees had implemented while working from home. To achieve this, the company tasked DLA to create a more comfortable, collaborative and informal environment for hybrid workers. Ultimately, it wanted an office that would feel modern, vibrant and inviting while serving the team’s practical needs.  
 
All spaces within the building were, as a result, designed with nature and biophilic design in mind. The ‘strawberry fields’ events space and breakout zones on the third floor are set up for collaboration, with picnic-like tables, tent-style awnings and deckchairs to introduce a quirky take on biophilic design. To complement the nature-inspired space, DLA selected Interface’s Human Nature collection in Kiwi for the flooring, due to its thick grass-like pile height which adds further nature-inspired textures to the design. This choice further supports end-user wellbeing by bringing the outdoors in to reduce stress, promote positivity and instil a sense of calm.  
 
Stephanie Metaxas, Architect at DLA Architecture, explained: “Incorporating a biophilic design scheme was essential for this project, as we wanted to make sure the space supported employee wellbeing. 

“From our long-standing relationship with Interface, we knew that they champion biophilia through many of their designs. The Human Nature and Human Connections collections were perfect for introducing nature-like textures and colours to promote productivity and positive wellbeing.” 
 
Across the main workfloor on level four, Ward Robinson specified flexible furniture choices, including desks on castors, soft seating and curtains, to provide employees with the freedom and choice to work from a space that suits them. Human Connections in Moss in Stone™ features heavily through the flooring design in the ground floor community hub, complementing the natural timber bleacher seating and integrating biophilia by mirroring the textures and colour of natural moss. Designed to support the sensory cues that we need in our everyday lives, this collection takes inspiration from nature to create positive spaces that offer variability and choice – in Home Group’s case, this involved creating a dynamic, spirited public space for working and sharing ideas and giving back to its local community. 
 
Collaborative, cohesive and calming  
 
To create a sense of warmth and serenity within the focus areas and meeting rooms, Ward Robinson selected the organic tones and textures of the Ice Breaker collection. Acting as a neutral base across the workfloors, the collection’s subtle etched lines and organic geometry spark interest without dominating, allowing the Look Both Ways™ collection to shine – from which bold Coral, Mustard, Jade and Indigo shades were chosen to create a sense of energy that would encourage collaboration and creativity. 
 
Within high footfall areas like walkways and stairwells, Interface’s Level Set LVT collection seamlessly integrated with Ice Breaker and Look Both Ways carpet tiles without the need for bridges or connectors, creating a smooth and level finish, while offering superior sound reduction thanks to an innovative Sound Choice™ backing.  
 
Supporting sustainability  
 
“Home Group is dedicated to improving its impact on the environment and, as such, sustainability formed a major part of the brief,” said Emma Weeden, designer at Ward Robinson. All of the carpet collections used in One Strawberry Lane – Look Both Ways, Composure, Ice Breaker, Touch and Tones, Human Connections and Human Nature – contain over 70% recycled and biobased content, while the LVT Level Set collection contains 39% recycled content.  

Reflecting on the project, Weeden said: “We loved working with Interface to create a space that’s more than just an impressive headquarters – it’s a wellbeing hub that mirrors Home Group’s core values. This design centred around employees using this space to collaborate and reconnect so it was important that the flooring design felt energising and inviting.” 
 
Jason Cadman, Account Manager at Interface, added: “This is truly one of Interface’s most impressive projects to date. Working closely with Ward Robinson and Overbury, we were able to use a comprehensive range of Interface products – including carpet tile, LVT and nora rubber flooring – to bring the space to life through colour, texture and style – all while delivering on the wellbeing and sustainability aspirations for the project, with no compromise on practicality and performance.”  








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