An array of Forbo Flooring Systems products has been installed within the University of St Andrews’ newest student accommodation building, to help deliver a contemporary and high-end aesthetic that would enhance the students’ experience. The final design resulted in HLM Architects being commended in the 2019/20 Fly Forbo competition.

 Located within the University of St Andrews’ North Haugh Campus, Powell Hall was developed to provide 205 new bedrooms, as well as high-quality common spaces, as part of the largest expansion of accommodation in St Andrews for over a decade.

Keen to offer an exceptional student experience, The University of St Andrews wanted the new accommodation to have its own unique look and feel. Mhairi-Claire Wilkes, Interior Designer at HLM Architects, explains: “The number of international students is increasing, and their expectations for academic living are not limited to the four walls of the bedroom. Instead they desire a higher quality of hospitality. They want a space to meet people, collaborate, learn and play; spaces that will enhance their social living experience, while supporting and improving their academic and personal growth.”

With this in mind, the University selected Campus Living Villages as its joint venture development partner and HLM architects to provide its architectural and interior design services.

To meet the University’s brief, HLM Architects developed a variety of social, formal and informal spaces for students to collaborate and study in, all of which featured unique lighting and furniture, as well as bespoke colour palettes that reflected the University’s branding, which were expressed through the soft furnishings and feature paint.

Mhairi-Claire continued: “When it came to selecting materials and colours for the project, we ensured that they reflected the University’s heritage and complemented its existing buildings. However, to make this building unique, we decided that each floor would have its own colour palette, to not only provide some identity to those that use the building, but to also help with wayfinding. We managed to achieve this through the specification of the floor coverings.

“As we have a strong relationship with Kay Kerr at Forbo, we knew we would receive excellent help on the project.”

Within the formal, reflective learning areas, which were designed for students that wished to engage in individual work quietly, HLM Architects opted to install Forbo’s Tessera Diffusion carpet tiles, thanks to its soft aesthetics. Forrest trail, a brown earthy tone was specified for the first floor; Arctic Voyage, which has a soft light blue hue, was installed on the second floor, and Magnetic flux, a charcoal grey, was chosen for the third floor

Mhairi-Claire continued: “Within the informal spaces, where the students would interact and socialise, we chose Tessera Layout Planks in the colourways Mono and Plasmatron – both of which have complementing grey and black hues running throughout. We also had a bespoke Library Red developed by Forbo specifically for this project, to represent the University’s colours.

“When we originally chose the planks, we were unsure on how to use them at first. However, with help from Kay, we decided to install them in an almost Tetris style pattern and it looks great! To be honest, I think it is one of the most successful finishes that we have had on this project; we really like the combination of the grey and black tones, combined with the vibrant pops of red.”

Throughout the corridors, HLM Architects specified Forbo’s Sarlon acoustic vinyl floor covering in the colourway Steel, to mimic the architectural concrete featured on the outside of the building. Chosen for its acoustic properties, the Sarlon range has been developed to provide 19dB impact sound reduction – perfect for this project where hundreds of students will use the space at the same time.

“At the entrance area of the building, Kay recommended that we used Forbo’s Coral entrance flooring system to remove the soil and moisture from shoes and wheel treads, to protect the interior floor coverings,” commented Mhairi-Claire. “Coral Duo in Luna pearl was chosen as it is aesthetically pleasing and complemented the Tessera Layout planks perfectly, thanks to its grey and black design.”

Forbo’s Coral Duo is the ultimate dirt and moisture remover. It is the ideal solution for areas that require maximum dirt removal, unrivalled dirt retention and exceptional moisture absorption, all in just a couple of paces. In fact, research has shown that Coral Duo retains 10% more dirt in the first few metres than any other textile entrance flooring solution on the market. HLM Architects also chose to install Novilon Classic in all of the communal kitchen areas to provide a more homely and warming atmosphere.

For more information about Forbo’s solutions for student accommodation, please visit or to pre-register for the 2020/21 Fly Forbo competition visit


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