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Less is More in Floorcoverings

Published on 2002-12-12. Author : SpecialChem

Level, flush, seamless, decorative - SKWB Schoellerbank in Innsbruck

Leverkusen - The new offices of SKWB Schoellerbank in the Austrian city of Innsbruck, integrated into the first and upper floors of a prestigious residential and commercial building constructed towards the end of the 19th century, are characterized by a clearly structured layout.

As a result, the design of the premises conveys to the customers the private bank's high standards in terms of personal service and transparency. In addition, internationally renowned architect Peter Lorenz has succeeded in clearly separating the old from the new, essentially by using a small number of select materials in the historical rooms that have been stripped down to the basic fabric. Particular mention should be made in this connection of the seamless and thus very homogeneous appearance of the rubber granule floorcovering.

Other advantages of this covering include its high footfall sound attenuation and a surface with good non-slip properties, even when wet.

"Openness creates confidence - in shaping the future and in the bank," says Peter Lorenz, explaining the concept behind his design. Consequently, the first floor consists of a single room, in which the vaults from the 19th century dominate, resting on exposed cast-iron pillars and defining the few room partitions created by floor-to- ceiling glass walls. The connection between the entrance from the street and the staircase at the back is an eye-catcher and a neat trick in one. Best described as a "blue glass tunnel", it looks as if it has been driven right through the bank premises and, being transparent, it structures, rather than dividing. On the upper floor, which has a slightly larger surface area, Peter Lorenz has carefully integrated additional consulting rooms of open design, as well as side rooms, into the existing building that is now well over a hundred years old.

The uniform structure of the vaulted room on the first floor and the few new materials - glass, steel, aluminum, transparent or blue like the bank's logo - are perfectly complemented by the calm, even surface of the anthracite-colored floorcovering. It is made of a patented polyurethane/rubber granule system from the Boulenger company of Paris. The rubber granules are bound using a solvent-free polyurethane resin based on Bayer's Desmodur and Desmophen raw materials, and the system is available in flexible to rigid form, as well as in an antistatic version. The polyurethane-bound system is applied on site in liquid form, resulting in a seamless floorcovering. After application, the surface is ground, filled and sealed with a highly elastic polyurethane resin. The system thus yields a seamless, extremely hard-wearing covering with a wide range of potential applications, both indoors and out. The floorcovering is applied in a thickness of roughly 5 to 8 millimeters by Walo Bertschinger AG, a construction company based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Architect Lorenz rates the seamless and thus very homogeneous appearance of the floorcovering as a great advantage. The fact that these rubber granule floorcoverings can be ground absolutely flush, thus creating transitions that are completely free of overlaps, is demonstrated by the square cut-outs around the old, round, cast-iron pillars. In this way, Lorenz uses the capabilities offered by a modern material to pay respect to the historical substance of the building. Other functional advantages for the planner that benefit the building owner are the good non-slip properties of the surface, even when wet, and high footfall sound attenuation of up to 20 dB. Being applied in seamless fashion, the flooring is easy to clean, thus reducing the follow-up costs.

Another advantage is the option of giving the floorcovering a decorative design. One option is solid colors, but there is also the possibility of mixing granules in a choice of more than twenty different colors to suit the prevailing requirements. As a result, there are virtually no limits to the range of available color combinations.

Customers of the private bank can already see the floor as an inviting new element from outside. Like a single-color mezzanine inserted just above the apron wall, it leads into the depths of the room, where the illuminated vaults are reflected in it: another artistic trick designed to combine the elegance of the surface with the technical advantages of a false floor. The simple elegance compared to the polished, natural stone effect of the rubber granule floorcovering is important to Peter Lorenz: "It provides an optimum combination of functional and esthetic requirements."

Source: Bayer

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