New Staircase Helps Lift School Sports Centre

Being bright is always helpful at school. And we’re not just talking about the pupils here. When it comes to interior design, creating spaces which are as light and bright as possible is known to have positive impacts on students’ well-being and achievement.

Following in the footsteps of the modern office building, schools across the country have, over the past decade or so, invested in modernising their interiors. Out have gone cramped, closed classrooms with dark stained wood fixtures and fittings. In have come open, contemporary spaces, with much greater use of materials like glass and stainless steel which help to maximise the light available.

One example of a school project we have worked on was at Formby High School on Merseyside. The 1,000 pupil Academy and Sixth Form to the north of Liverpool dates back to 1938, with a significant portion of its original buildings still in use.

Bright and Airy

The installation we worked on was the renovation of the school sports hall, led by Browns Shopfitting and Construction. Browns had been contracted to undertake the full refurbishment of the 2000sq ft sports hall, including upgrading shower and changing facilities, and the creation of a new fitness suite.

Glass & Stainless was brought in by Browns to complete the installation of a new stainless steel staircase. This was to sit directly behind a brand new bright and airy atrium, featuring powder coated aluminium fittings and glass balustrades.

As you can see, the existing staircase did not exactly fit with the look and feel of this new feature entrance hall. The wooden balustrades, supported by thin blue painted metal posts, were typical of school interiors of an age gone by and in need of a revamp.

We fitted a brand new contemporary looking balustrade system, comprised of 304 Grade stainless steel posts and handrails with 10mm toughened glass infills. The intention was to create an installation which was both functional and in keeping with the style of the refurbished sports hall, designed to meet the demands of daily use in a busy school but also contribute to the new bright, open feel.

304 Grade stainless steel is an industry standard alloy which delivers most of the benefits of stainless steel. Easy to shape yet strong, and resistant to corrosion, it is widely used on indoor balustrades where it provides more than adequate durability at affordable prices.

Stainless steel was used instead of aluminium because of the health and safety requirements of installing a balustrade on a staircase, especially in a school. Aluminium is a much softer metal, and the balustrade supports needed to be strong enough to resist everyday knocks. However, the polished finish gives the same effect as the powder coated aluminium fittings used in the atrium windows.

Similarly, we chose a toughened glass for the balustrade panels with an eye on safety. Glass makes a great solution for opening up a space and, paired with stainless steel, creating a clean, sharp aesthetic appeal. But ordinary glass is brittle, which on a staircase in a school creates a safety risk. Toughened glass is not only built to be thick enough to resist breakage, it is also heat treated improve its strength.