Dining Hall, Bradfield College

Foldable tables and custom stacking dining chairs increase capacity for Bradfield College

Increasing Dining Hall capacity and flexibility

Education & Research


Luke Hughes designed the original Bradfield chair for Bradfield College over 30 years ago. Since then we have worked on several projects together and were, therefore, a natural choice for the school when it came to designing the optimum combination of flexible tables and stacking dining chairs.

This dining hall was part of a larger architectural project to remodel the servery and increase the total dining capacity from 200 to 270. This has been achieved by converting a former reprographics office into an overflow dining area for 60 diners and by increasing the main dining hall capacity from 200 to 210. The scheme was designed by Squires and Brown.


Bradfield College's Capital Projects Manager contacted our team to seek advice on how to maximise the dining capacity not only suitable in its principal role as students’ dining hall, but also as a conference and wedding venue as well as a formal dining space for parents, teachers and alumni.

The 35% increase in capacity we achieved, from 200 to 270 covers, corresponds directly into improved revenue from commercial events and has been made possible through the careful consideration of table leg spacing and the customisation of stacking dining chairs to optimise the efficiency and versatility of the space.

The space presented challenges in the way students need to circulate not least since it has to fit between columns without creating pinch-points.

Using a custom-sized Athena foldable table and high-density stacking dining chairs, we provided various layouts to show options for optimum as well as maximum capacity. We scrutinised the available storage areas in adjoining rooms, value-engineered the seating and customised the materials and finishes of both the folding dining table and stacking dining chair so as to blend with the interior.


Successful planning and sizing of storage is fundamental to the success of these kind of projects, when the importance of handling, storage and circulation tend to be underestimated.

In this case, storage and transport dollies and trollies ensure that everything can be moved, re-configured, stored and re-set without damage, using the minimum number of facilities’ staff in the shortest possible time. Low-cost change is fundamental to running multi-use spaces, especially if outsourced moving companies are used to support a depleted facilities team.

Folding dining tables and stacking dining chairs combined with the right storage and transport trolleys ensure that Bradfield's revitalised dining commons is now set for decades of increased revenue generation and greatly improved operational efficiency. The key to the folding dining table in this instance, as is often the case in dining commons design, is the leg spacing. Getting that exactly right so that the maximum number of stacking dining chairs can be accommodated without cramping both adults and children is vital.

Our specialist delivery and installation team provided training on how the furniture folds, stacks and is designed to move.  This, in conjunction with our comprehensive O+M manual. helps ensure the furniture is used and maintained properly for decades to come


The domestic bursar kindly commented "The folding dining tables and stacking dining chairs replaced old tables and benches believed to be made by the school carpenter. The Dining Hall itself dates from circa 1850 and is based on the style of a tythe barn. The College wanted a solution that was neither overly traditional nor modern, but respected the nature of the building. The College was also looking to move away from the traditional benches as these were not particularly practical, particularly now that the College is co-educational. The ability to easily move and store both the tables and chairs was a key driver as the Dining Hall serves a number of purposes. Finding a table that looks solid, but also folds was challenging, but the Athena table fully met this brief...staff are often surprised to discover that they fold. The Curvy chairs stack amazingly well, considering their solid look and feel. Matching the stain of the seat back to the tables united the design. The result is a smart, quality dining space that changes perceptions of folding and stacking furniture."

Thanks are due to the teams at Bradfield College and Squire and Brown for their collaboration and professionalism.

More photos to follow soon!

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