Digital edition 2021 | Plasterboard

Bath Spa University, Herman Miller Building - School of Art & Design

United KingdomUnited KingdomCompany Name: Topfix Interiors

Project description

Once a factory for the furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, which was designed in the 1970s, this Grade II listed building has undergone a major refurbishment to extend and adapt it to contain a mix of teaching facilities, workshops and social spaces for Bath Spa University’s Art & Design School on Locksbrook Campus. British Gypsum needed to specify the best solutions to meet the design complexities – including seven-meter-high walls and robust acoustic and fire protection requirements. On top of this, the British Gypsum team provided over 160 hours of consultation to overcome unique design challenges and technical requirements. The building had to retain a lot of the original features, seamlessly integrating the old with the new. It also had to retain its flexible and technically-sound qualities so that it can cater effectively for students today and well into the future.


Topfix Interiors

Topfix Interiors was conceived in 1989, known then as Topfix Suspended Ceilings the business operated from the out buildings of a farm situated in Westerleigh. The company’s core activity was specialising in suspended ceilings. In 1992 the company moved to Hawkesbury Upton in Gloucestershire occupying a small industrial shed and store; these premises were soon outgrown which resulted in relocating to Easton Business Centre, Bristol. The company employed four office staff and began to progress into a wider range of aspects within the interiors sector. The company then rebranded as Topfix Interiors Ltd. In 2004 Miles Radburn changed direction from Topfix Interiors; he retained ownership and left the daily management to Roy Thompson, Miles created a London based interior specialist company called Office One Interiors Ltd. The company enjoyed great success, however the development of Topfix Interiors suffered as a result, declining in turnover and profit over a three year period, it was apparent a fresh structure and approach was required. Recruiting Tim Padmore as Commercial Director, Miles Radburn returning as Managing Director and Contracts Manager Nigel Rawles reinvigorated the company in a short space of time and turnover was increased. The currect offices are located at the 18th century tram buildings in Circuit 32, Easton. The company has enjoyed growth, development and market sector despite challenging times.

Fire protection
To overcome the complexity of fire protection between old and new steel work, Glasroc® F FireCase was used
Robustness guarantee
Rigidur® H solved the complexity of the workshop areas due to seven-metre walls, acoustic, fire and robustness requirements

Key Achievements

  • A building and campus that encourages students to work more ambitiously and in collaboration
  • A building that is flexible and robust enough to adapt over time and be fit for the future
  • Meet stringent and complex fire and acoustic requirements
  • Seven-metre high walls for some of the spaces
  • Retained original features
  • Planning for the deflection and movement in the original steel beams without any cracks to the plaster or finish
  • A truly collaborative approach with British Gypsum providing over 131 hours of technical support and a further 29 hours of project specific detailing

Key Challenges

Grade II listed building dating back to the 1970s and many of the original features had to be kept.

The deflection of the iconic yellow steel beams, which are part of the original design, but when loaded there’s a lot of movement.

Tall, seven-metre walls in the workshops, which need to be flexible to change for future use, as well as meet stringent fire and acoustic standards.

The complexity of the fire protection between old and new steel work and integrated partition systems.


Building owner:
Bath Spa University
Grimshaw Architects
Main contractor:
Willmott Dixon
Rick Gem
Saint-Gobain Team:
Graham Lloyd Phil Joseph