Interface carpet tiles have played an important role in a major project at an educational precinct in Karratha, Western Australia, a regional centre 1575 kilometres northeast of Perth. This isn’t a little redesign; the whole school’s been moved. An aspirational vision of an education and recreation precinct will create connections and continuity between the Pilbara TAFE Institute, the Karratha Leisureplex and the high school.
The design brief for a team lead by Sarah Coghlan of T&Z Architects was that the interiors should revolve around local identity and connect into the broader precinct. How would they bring this to life?
Western Australia’s environment is unique and beautiful with strong heat and strong colours. The high school’s setting evokes numerous feelings, sometimes elemental and simple and other times something more complex.
‘We drew inspiration from the colours and textures found in the unique natural topography to create a strong reference to the vernacular environment,’ explained Coghlan. They not only used appropriate colour tones from the landscape, but they wanted to reflect its vibrancy: ‘The energetic and random installation of Interface carpet tiles was used to create a visual connection between the interior and its wider context.’
To fulfill their aims and design brief, the designers needed to be able to work with a set of tools offering them maximum flexibility. They found it in Interface’s Cubic carpet collection, choosing up to 15 different colours from the pattern ranges Cubic and Cubic Colours.
For the school’s library, a significant building within the campus, they combined design with a philosophical approach. The focus in the carpet tiles was to graduate the neutral and the bright tones, offering a welcoming gesture in collaboration with the open facade on the main entry approach.
They also used the carpet tiles for practical design: different colours were used to indicate space. The student areas are demarcated with the introduction of the bright red, while the staff areas retain more neutral colours. At the same time, for a school, this is the perfect material: Interface’s i2TM revolutionary mergeable dye lots patterning ensures maximum facility maintenance benefits. It’s hard-wearing and can be selectively replaced with ease and minor cost.
One of the patterns of carpet tiles they used liberally in their design were the checkerboard squares of different colours that invoke cubes, or building blocks. As a metaphor, it’s appropriate: the way good design can build a vibrant and animated place for learning, and the way education is the building block for a brighter future for students. The overall vision for the school was to provide ‘a public facility of choice that would encourage students and staff to continue their education and careers respectively in Karratha’. Ambitious indeed, but it looks like they’re succeeding already.