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    A hospitality flooring strategy is a case of room by room

    Jasmine O'Donoghue

    Hospitality trends come and go, but every project needs a solid floor which balances function and aesthetics.

    When it comes to flooring, hospitality environments present their own set of challenges.

    “A hospitality project differs itself to say residential or industrial because we need to take into consideration looks versus functionality,” explains Eid Goh, director Architects EAT. “The floor needs to gel with the dining experience and ensure the safety and longevity of the users and maintenance.”

    CONSIDER THIS

    The drastically different set of needs and risks in a hospitality project means flooring products must satisfy a special set of requirements.

    Existing condition

    Both Felicity Slattery, Director of Studio Esteta and Goh suggest the first step is to check out the existing flooring/sub floor to see if it’s possible to work with what’s already there. It may be as simple as paring back a surface and applying a finish, saving money which can be used elsewhere.

    Safety

    Throw some water on a surface and it instantly becomes a slip hazard. Add grease, oils and fat to the mix and you’ve got a dangerous environment. “A film as thin as 1/10th thickness of human hair can be enough to prevent complete contact between the shoe and floor, causing an accident,” says Paul Bruce, Altro Technical Services Manager Asia Pacific. Workplace health and safety requirements trickle down to flooring choice and floors must be suitable, in good condition and free from obstructions. Bruce recommends architects check the specification includes the required slip resistant rating and additional performance and technical requirements “to ensure the correct, fit for purpose products are utilised on the project”.

    Durability

    Hospitality flooring must be exceptionally durable. Under The Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code, the design of industrial catering areas must allowing them to be effectively cleaned. “With hospitality, it needs to be quite a robust floor because of the amount of traffic and cleaning,” Slattery explains. “If it’s not a concrete or a solid timber it just won’t last.” Ceramic tiles may be prone to chipping or cracking, allowing contaminated liquids to penetrate and bacteria to grow.

    Maintenance

    Architects must consider the maintenance or cost to replace flooring over time. Materials such as concrete may be simply lightly ground back and refinished to be returned to its former glory, while replacing grout or tiles can become a laborious and expensive task.

    Aesthetics

    Naturally, aesthetics is a key driver in any project and is no less important in hospitality projects. Investment in quality flooring will not go unnoticed as it can brighten up a space or create a desired mood.

    WHAT'S IN FAVOUR

    Kitchen and service areas:

    The main priority for flooring in kitchen and service areas is flooring that will help staff do their job. Specially manufactured ceramic or porcelain floor tiles can be used in kitchens to achieve the required slip rating, or a surface finish can be applied to concrete. A vinyl floor or safety flooring are popular options as they can provide the slip resistance and durability required and reduce fatigue by providing comfort underfoot. In addition, many manufacturers provide coving to ensure cleaning is easy and there is nowhere for contaminants to hide.

    Front of house:

    The front of house is where the customers create their first impressions of the establishment. The flooring must be aesthetically pleasing but still able to handle the conditions. “You want to spend the money in the areas that get seen,” Slattery says. “You spend the money on the really beautiful concrete or timber floor finish and then you save the money in the service areas by doing a vinyl or a cheaper tile.”

    Another option is to run a timber floor in the entrance and then switch to tile or vinyl in the high-use service areas, but if you don’t select a grey grout finish, Slattery said the grout can start looking pretty dirty over time.

    At Architects EAT, the team will tend to use porcelain, timber, stone or concrete for front of house. “The slip rating is lower in this instance hence we are able to access an array of finishes available in the market,” Goh says.

    PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

    Lune Crossianterie by Studio Esteta

    1_Tom-Blachford.jpg
    Photography by Tom Blachford

    This project involved the interior alterations to an existing bare warehouse in Melbourne’s Fitzroy to house the expansion of specialist bakery, Lune Croissanterie. The brief was to “keep the pastries as the celebration of the space” and a clinical, simple fitout that revolved around the pastry-making process was requested. Studio Esteta took on the challenge of transporting the pastry making process to the forefront of the business. At the centre of the design was “The Lab”, a climate-controlled show space where the pastries are made.

    6_Tom-Blachford.jpg
    Photography by Tom Blachford

    The project required a robust, level flooring surface to allow trolleys and tables to be wheeled around with ease. The kitchen was not like a usual commercial kitchen as there was not a lot of wastage and the processes were different. Felicity Slattery, Director of Studio Esteta explains that the existing structural concrete slab was used to allow the roughness and rawness of the warehouse to be maintained. The slab was ground back to bring out its character and a few layers of clear sealer finish applied. The finished product provided a continuous base, “so the space flows really easily from one space to another,” Slattery explains. It also offered a solid, level base for staff to work efficiently and a “seamless floor finish that worked for all the difference service areas”. Using the existing slab was a cost-saving measure, too. “It was a matter of trying to work with the existing conditions and spending the money on major more front of house elements that would create the wow factor”.

    Tetsujin by Architects EAT

    Tetsujin_EAT_35.jpg
    Photography by Derek Swalwell

    Tetsujin is a Japanese restaurant in Emporium, Melbourne. The converted shopping centre tenancy is separated into three different dining experiences: the sushi train, the Izakaya, and the bar. The spaces were given their own individual branding, with the Sushi Train reminiscent of order, system and repetition, in contrast to the lively Japanese BBQ which ties in the concept of chaos.

    Tetsujin_EAT_12.jpg
    Photography by Derek SwalwellTetsujin_EAT_29.jpg

    Eid Goh, designer of Tetsujin says the team used engineered oak timber flooring for the sushi dining area to “achieve a softer feel and to assist with acoustics”. In the BBQ dining area, porcelain tiles which have a timber looking texture were used simply for operational reasons. The two choices allowed Goh to balance aesthetics with practicality in operations. The decision to opt for relatively light finishing choices was also based on the sub flooring on site, with the entire floor raised off the concrete slab due to services restrictions.

    Tetsujin_EAT_13.jpg
    Photography by Derek Swalwell

    The Pantry restaurant

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    The Pantry restaurant had been serving delicious food in a relaxed, stylish setting for twenty years. The restaurant was in the market for a new floor after its previous one had worn down, especially in high traffic areas. The team was after a floor that would stand the test of time and match the interior design. They opted for Altro Walkway 20/VM20 in the colour Pitch as it is easy to cove and weld and achieved an R10 and P4 for slip resistance, giving sustained slip resistance throughout the lifetime of the product. “We chose VM20 Pitch to match our interiors and love the new look and moody vibe it provides for the entire restaurant area,” says Guy Mainwaring, owner, The Pantry.

    The-Pantry-Restaurant-Melbourne-Altro-Walkway-VM20-1.jpg

     

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