Shiny new floors!

7 04 2014

Shiny floors!

There is nothing nicer than a bright, shiny floor – this one was almost like looking at an empty swimming pool, and wanting to dive right in! The room is one of a suite of three spaces that will in future be dedicated to housing the majority of the Whitworth’s collections of fine art, textiles and wallpapers. All went reasonably well with laying the floor in the first room, and our storage suppliers started to install the storage equipment. Unfortunately, the next two rooms proved to be more tricky – the flooring is a liquid applied soft resin, and it has taken several attempts to get it exactly right – it looks like we are now finally closer to finishing work in this area, and we’ll soon be able to report on the completion of our marvellous new stores.


This other beautiful floor is along the North Promenade, a future public space that will link the existing ground floor North Gallery with our new Landscape Gallery. The floor is Purbeck capstone, quarried in Dorset, and will complement the original external brick walls of the Gallery and new oak panelling that will line the north side of the corridor. Our architects, MUMA have precisely designed the layout of the flooring, and describe them as follows: ‘…there are 5 set widths of stone that we are using throughout, plus some bespoke widths to suit particular conditions. Lengths vary and are a factor of what size of slab comes out of the ground – they are cut to minimise wastage’. So not just beautiful, but designed with an eye to sustainable sourcing of materials.

Looking down the North Promenade, visitors will have a long view out to the park, while artworks will grace the inner wall – the first exhibition here will be photographs by Johnnie Shand Kydd (see the Gallery’s opening programme at:


Natural stone flooring in the new Whitworth

13 01 2014

Natural stone flooring in the new Whitworth

When our architects MUMA first visited the Gallery back in 2009 one of the things they were struck by was the quality and enduring beauty of the natural materials that had been employed by architect John Bikerdike for the 1960s internal interventions – these included elm panelling, slate and loliondo wood.


In keeping with the existing Gallery materials, whilst clearly distinguishing the newly designed elements of the building, MUMA have chosen oak and Purbeck stone for wall panelling, exhibition gallery flooring and promenade and cafe flooring. In addition, contrasting stone or wood will be laid at the thresholds between a room and adjacent spaces.

Great care has been taken to ensure the practical aspects of each material has been taken into account to determine longevity, slip resistance, finish and maintenance. As the stone varies in colour, each piece will be carefully selected at source to achieve an overall colour tone and then sorted and grouped by the stone contractor as it is laid to avoid a patchy appearance; detailed and cost effective pattern layouts have been worked out in advance that relate to the size beds in the ground at the Purbeck quarry.

Over recent weeks on site, huge progress has been made on the flooring – underfloor heating and floor screeds have been laid and now, as shown in the main photo, sample areas are being checked for consistency and quality control.

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