As part of the Southmead Hospital redevelopment project, our regular contractor Carillion Plc. contracted Ken Rand Partners for the design of visitor bench seating for the main Atrium Concourse in the Brunel building. The client wished to install visitor seating underneath the stairs in the building. We designed visitor bench seating for three of those areas. As with the furniture for the soft visitor seating, these benches also needed to be compliant with a specific set of fire regulations in order to be approved by the fire officer. In this case it was harder to meet this requirement since there was a desire to have the units finished in Oak veneer to match the site’s interior wood panelling on certain walls in the hospital building. To comply with the weight limit of 160 kilograms of combustible material for each unit, the modules were constructed with a hollow framework using a laminated silicate composite sub-frame. This silicate composite (pro-marine) is non-combustible and chemically inert, and is used in the manufacturing of boats. All the exterior curved and flat surfaces were finished in a solid wood Oak Veneer with a stainless steel skirting as backing material. The first visitor bench seating arrangement comprised of 4 large modules with a total of 124 kg of combustible material, and the other two arrangements comprised of 5 large modules, each with a total of 148 kg of combustible material.
The very specific set of requirements was an excellent challenge for our design team. It stimulated us to think creatively in finding solutions for the set weight limits and investigate fire retardant materials used in other industries that could be used to our advantage. We are happy to have succeeded finishing this project to the satisfaction of the client, our contractor and the fire officers.