Tensile Structures – Isaac Newton Academy

canopy at dusk

Isaac Newton Academy

ORION™ Barrelvault Canopies 2x 15000mm (l) x 11000mm (w)

The break out area at Isaac Newton Academy presents an impressive social space for students and staff alike. Seating areas, table tennis tables and decorative planters transform the space into a calming retreat, for occupants to enjoy a well-earned lunch break.

However, the arrival of wet weather soon led the school to reconsider the design of its popular social space. Not only was overcrowding of the indoor areas becoming problematic, it was disappointing to see the valuable outdoor space go to waste.

Having previously appointed Streetspace to install outdoor furniture and a large cycle shelter for the school during its build in 2012, Isaac Newton Academy approached the project delivery specialists once again to specify a covered space for its outdoor break out area.

An unobtrusive yet efficient design

It was vital that the design of the canopy complemented the contemporary aesthetic of Isaac Newton Academy, while still ensuring functionality. In light of this requirement, Streetspace recommended an ORION barrelvault™ tensile membrane structure.

The barrel vault design provides a wide, clear-span area and an ambient sense of space. Due to its lightweight properties, the tensile membrane requires less structural steel columns to support the roof in comparison to traditional building materials. The space therefore benefits from minimal obstruction and clutter, guaranteeing a free flow of movement.

The canopy cover was specified in Sioen 650 Architectural Composite Membrane with PES Base Fabric and white PVC coated PVDF lacquer. The structure had a powder coat finish in RAL7024 Graphite Grey Aerosol (Gloss) to match the adjacent window frames.

Shielding sun while retaining light

The tensile membrane structure provides a flexible solution; perfect for use throughout the day, as well as during darker evenings. In daylight, the translucent fabric provides adequate shade to shelter the occupants. Yet, enough natural light is still able to penetrate through the structure to facilitate a pleasing, softly lit space. In the evenings, an ambient environment is created with the use of artificial lighting, further broadening the functionality of the canopy.

Keeping noise under wraps

The canopy’s tensile membrane offers excellent acoustic properties. The canopy fabric absorbs a considerable level of noise, limiting external sound pollution. This is particularly beneficial for school buildings, or when a residential area is in close proximity.

A swift, professional installation

Streetspace installed the canopy during the school’s two-week Easter break, meaning any potential disruption to its everyday operation was eliminated. Alternative options and cost-estimates were provided at the initial concept stage, to help bring clarity to the decision-making process and speed up the installation.

Simple, no-fuss maintenance

The one piece, welded tensile membrane roof has no joins to trap dirt, ensuring easy maintenance of the structure’s clean appearance. The PVC fabric used for the canopy is designed in a way that it washes in the rain and absorbs UV rays, which bleach the fabric to maintain its bright white colour.

A welcoming structure

The clean, minimalist design and symmetric form of the canopy complements the existing contemporary architecture of the Academy buildings. Immersed in an already spacious and leafy setting, the canopy is a unique enhancement to the school’s facilities.

“The new canopy has proved a great success with both students and staff at the Academy. During break and lunch times, the students play table tennis and relax on the stone benching underneath the cover. Not only does it provide shelter from the wet weather, but also some much-needed shade in the summer months. We are really pleased with the result.”

Helen Chamberlain, Finance and Resources Director


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ORION™ Barrelvault Tensile Membrane Canopy
Symmetric Barrelvault Design / Fixed-Edge Tension All Elevations / Integral Guttering & RWPs
Steelwork PPC RAL7024 Graphite Grey / PVC Membrane Fabric Sioen 650 White
Isaac Newton Academy. Cricklefield Place, Ilford, London
May 2017