Dining Hall, Bradfield College

Foldable tables and custom stackable 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.

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.

Our brief

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 from 200 to 270 corresponds directly with improved revenue from commercial events.

Design challenges

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 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 tables and chairs 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.

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 tables and 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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