School spec: covered!

Vicky Evans of Twinfix discusses how bespoke canopies and covered areas can create a style to suit each education site and location, giving specifiers the ability to offer schools something unique, but familiar

Canopies and covered areas are an attractive and cost-effective addition to any school. Properly designed and installed, they can be eye-catching structures which provide additional learning space, eating space and play areas. They can be fitted almost anywhere, and can help to extend classrooms, providing fit for purpose entrance covers, as well as weatherproof covered walkways.

Bringing the inside outside

Canopies and covered areas are especially useful for providing outside eating and play areas, particularly in light of the unpredictable British weather. As the country looks to ease its way out of the Covid-19 lockdown, more covered outside space has been and will be needed as we move forward.

The mental and physical benefits of increasing the amount of daylight in our environment have been well documented. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that not only do we feel better as a result of more daylight, but we also concentrate better, sleep better, perform better, recover faster, and are happier.

Daylight affects us unlike anything else; our desire for it is deeply rooted in our souls, making it something we desperately need. Studies show that adding daylight into design results in a demonstrable increase in academic performance, and improvements in the behaviour of students. Having a bright, open, versatile space which can be covered if needed, makes it not only exciting and fun to learn in this space, but makes a real feature of the outside.

Covering off the design

Each school is different with specific needs which require bespoke solutions to fit with the existing structures, the students, the curriculum, and desired uses. Having well designed, flexible spaces ensure that as requirements and demands change, the limitations are school heads’ imagination and not the environment they’re in.

Canopies and covered areas are a cost effective, low maintenance alternative to an extension, while still providing much needed outside space. Canopies can be used in conjunction with roller shutters or vertical glazing to provide multipurpose spaces, offering additional space with the benefits of being inside, outside.

Attractively designed, sympathetic to existing architecture and blending with surroundings, they offer significant benefits as learning spaces or covered multi-purpose areas. Made from hard wearing, long life products such as aluminium and polycarbonate, which resist the damage of exposure to the British weather and are sustainable and environmentally friendly, due to their ability to be recycled, canopies and covered areas provide a true long-term investment. There is no substitute for having a flexible outdoor space that can provide somewhere safe and secure when required, but which can quickly and easily be opened up to allow the outside inside.

Learning by example

One recent example saw Twinfix, a manufacturer of canopies and covered spaces, design, manufacture and install a free-standing monopitch canopy with an aluminium frame to complement a new classroom. The roof comprises an innovative panel system which meets relevant safety tests, making it a safe choice for the school environment.

Using polycarbonate glazing materials for the specification provided protection against UV to those beneath the canopy.

It is also incredibly tough and is designed not to crack or craze with use.

Vicky Evans is director at Twinfix