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What's behind door technology?

Phil Wise, European Marketing Director at Formica Group, discusses the influence doors can have on the education environment

Posted by Lucinda Reid | December 05, 2016 | Interiors

A study on the influence of classroom design and layout on the learning abilities of students indicates that academic progress can improve by up to 25%. Colour, a significant part of design, provides an ample amount of visual stimulation for students in the classroom with research suggesting that the schemes conventionally adopted by institutes have a negative effect on learning.

According to Frank Mahnke, President of the International Association of Color Consultants/Designer, preschool and elementary school students prefer the warmer side of the palette whereas high school and post-secondary level students lean towards cooler colours.With evidence indicating that selecting the appropriate colour can be influential to classroom productivity; ensuring the décor is consistent throughout any one room in the school is elementary, this include doors.

When we consider that conversations with designers reveal doors are responsible for setting the right tone before entering a room, we can further understand why door design should not be overlooked as part of the wider design scheme. Doors that are available in a wide selection of colours are an attractive proposition for schools looking to maximise the effect of décor on the environment, however today’s manufacturers are able to offer more due to technological advances.

There are now decor options that permit the creation of customised visuals for personalised interiors and allow the incorporation of signage and brand identity, such as a school emblem, within the fabric of the door itself.

In addition to the breadth of design options offered by the latest door collections available in the market, we are also seeing the introduction of smart low tech doors that feature a magnetic surface or chalkboard option. Such doors can be utilised in the education environment as a means of communication to suit different functions, whether it be incorporated as a learning tool or to simply identify classrooms.

Looking beyond the impact of décor, it is also necessary to consider factors such as ease of maintenance and hygiene properties when installing doors in an education environment. Doors that possess surfacing properties that are impervious to liquids and are easy to clean, requiring little more than water and mild detergent, are a sensible option for schools since maintenance budgets are typically limited.

Furthermore, it is important that door material is inert and does not support microbial growth. The high traffic footfall of the school environment means doors are a surface that occupants regularly come into direct contact with. According to a report by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 27% of secondary school boys claimed they never used soap at school. Although hygienic doors may not directly address the issue, they can assist in limiting the potential absenteeism that can arise from the spreading of illnesses caused by dirty hands contaminating school surfaces.

Understanding the potential health benefits from specifying the correct doors, it seems appropriate to now consider safety. If left alone or neglected, a fire door’s integrity can be compromised and may no longer serve a useful function in fire safety prevention. Since fire doors need to be surveyed every six months to make sure they are in proper working condition, ensuring the specification of hard wearing material offers a distinct advantage when it comes to meeting the required criteria. Material such as High Pressure Laminate (HPL) is ideal since its durable properties means doors are better equipped to maintain their integrity.

HPL is difficult to ignite and has properties that retard the spread of flames; when specifying for such requirements it is important that the chosen substrate is fire resistant too. In a fire situation HPL does not soften or release burning droplets and through the right selection of quality and thickness can meet the highest fire performance achievable with organic materials.

In contrast to traditional fire doors which were often cumbersome with practicality driving specification over aesthetic, today’s offerings match functionality with design. Furthermore, although it is understandable why facility managers’ would presume fire doors with the required ancillary properties are more costly than their standard counterparts, the fact is this is not necessarily the case. For schools needing to adhere to tight budgets, being able to specify doors that automatically fulfill UK and European Fire Doors and Building Regulations is one less factor for architects, designs, headmasters and facility managers to address.

Door technology is improving and with it comes a broader scope of colours, sizes, finishes and styles to suit the needs of the education sector and contribute towards providing a more productivity and safer environment for occupants.

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