Jo Richardson Community School is a large school in east London. The School has around 1400 pupils between 11 – 19 years of age.
In one part of the School there is a generous sized space that is enclosed on three sides by school buildings. The School has many courtyard spaces like this but this one is the busiest because it is next to the canteen and on the most direct route to the separate sports hall. As the space is uncovered it offers little shelter to pupils and staff. To transform this area, so that it could be protected and safe to use for dining, break times and other activities, the school wanted to cover it with a canopy.
Initially they requested a steel framed canopy with no central posts. This would allow maximum use of the space (with no posts to restrict the flow of people or potential uses). There were two major drawbacks to this approach. The first was cost. A steel structure large enough to cover the space and work without central posts would not be cheap. The second was that using a steel structure, that was big enough to fit the space, had the potential to not be sympathetic to the surrounding buildings and environment.
As this was such an important project it was essential that any solution satisfied both practical and aesthetic requirements. This can be seen in the rendered image below which shows how the all steel structure would have looked.
A second, more cost-effective option was then proposed. This still used steel but included posts that would support from the centre. This gives more flexibility to the installation process and reduces costs, but does place limitations on the use of the space and flow of pupils under the canopy.
In both cases a steel canopy was proving not to be the ideal option.
|Above: Initial render of a Double Grange Freestanding Canopy in situ||Above: Initial render of a Hamilton Big Span Canopy in situ|
To overcome the issues of using steel we suggested to the School that they consider our Tarnhow Dome Free Standing Timber Canopy. This would allow them to maximise the space, work within a manageable budget and use a material that would complement the existing buildings and make a strong and appealing visual statement.
The final size was a canopy that measured 35 metres in length, by 11metres wide, with a height of 5 metres. This could be installed without central posts, thereby ensuring the space could be maximised and used for different activities and occasions.
While timber was not the first thought for the customer it proved to be the perfect choice. With its good looks, provision of effective weather protection and value for money price, it ensured the school achieved their project goal of a transformed space that would provide value for them well into the future.
The final installation not only gave the school everything they needed in terms of weather protection but it also looked extremely impressive with the dramatic lines of the wooden Tarnhow frame drawing the eye through the structure to the end wall. The substantial height of the canopy added to the feel of space and depth that will mean the school can use it for all sorts of activities and events and not just as a seating area.
It also allows large number of pupils to move around the space safely with plenty of room for seating and other equipment, such as a hot snack trolley, to be used.
The installation itself was a textbook process with the frame going up quickly and then the roof panels being added to the structure. Our pre-installation visits and accurate measurements allowed us to have all the elements in place before the agreed installation date, meaning we could finish on time and on budget. We were even able to design and construct a neat bespoke solution where the canopy had to fit with the existing building – see image to the right.
This meant that the protection from rain and snow was complete wherever you were under the canopy and would allow the school to get the most from their new space all year round.