Innovative £320k development aids pupils’ wellbeing

    Schoolchildren in Cheshire are
    enjoying a renewed sense of health and wellbeing, following a ground-breaking
    project at Alsager School. The £320k development has provided students with
    space to enjoy the fresh air – whatever the weather.

    Tasked with overseeing the
    design, build and installation of a sleek new ETFE canopy to enclose what was
    previously an open courtyard, Access North Build has made waves within the
    education sector with its industry-first solution.

    Yorkshire-headquartered Access
    North Build designed, developed and installed a pioneering solution, a
    lightweight steel space frame – the first of its kind supporting an ETFE
    membrane in the UK – 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.”

    Engineered to carry more weight
    over a greater area – in order to provide plenty of natural light and promote
    student wellbeing – the greatest challenge 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 square feet 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.

    “We relished the
    challenges of this particular project. Craning a huge space frame over a school
    and courtyard – which was bordered on all sides – without damaging buildings or
    people, was a testament to the planning, organisation and attention to detail
    of the team. 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.”