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An innovative £320,000 development at Alsager School in Cheshire has provided schoolchildren with a renewed sense of health and wellbeing, allowing a space for students to enjoy fresh air, whatever the weather.
Yorkshire-headquartered Access North Build was tasked with the design, build and installation of a sleek ETFE canopy to enclose what was previously an open courtyard. The pioneering solution, a lightweight steel space frame, is the first of its kind in the UK and was erected to span the quad, thus enclosing the area beneath.
Alsager School Site Manager, Matt Harris, explained: ‘Fresh air plays a pivotal part in the wellbeing and health of people of all ages. Creating a space which allows students to ‘go outside’ while providing protection from the elements – including rain and solar shielding – is key to supporting their development.’
The greatest challenge for the project was the location and layout of the outdoor space, which was enclosed by existing buildings on all sides. As a result, the superstructure – which is over 400 sq ft in size – had to be assembled in the school car park before being carefully manoeuvred over the establishment and precisely into position on the pre-installed locating bolts.
Access North Group Managing Director, Berenice Northcott, added: ‘This type of ETFE enclosure provides an extremely beneficial space for organisations within the education sector, where student wellbeing is crucial. Additionally, the new ETFE canopy has a design life of 70 years providing it is regularly maintained, but if the time comes when it is no longer required, the ETFE membrane and steel space frame are recyclable, extending the environmental friendliness of the build with the circular economy in mind. The new roof has transformed a previously under-utilised area into a light and airy multifunctional space, resulting in a positive impact on staff and pupils.’
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