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New outdoor learning spaces for Water Hall Primary School

Bletchley school adds striking canopies to nine classrooms to encourage outdoor learning

Posted by Stephanie Broad | September 22, 2016 | Outdoors

The RIBA-award winning Water Hall Primary School, in Bletchley, Milton Keynes has just seen the completion of a very special addition to their school. Beginning in July of 2016 and finished just in time for the start of the new school year, Setter Shelters has constructed striking and innovative new canopies to nine of their school classrooms, providing each one with the opportunity to take their lessons outdoors and into nature.

Their school building, designed by Wyatt Mclaren LLP, was recipient of the ‘Inspiring Design’ award for its distinctive design, calm and relaxing spaces, and use of natural materials. When Sam King, business manager at Water Hall, put out the tender through Milton Keynes council, she knew that the winning design would have to be something that matched the unconventional design of the school. 

Sam said: “We were looking for something to complement our school, and provide plenty of covered space for our pupils to get outdoors during lessons.”

Setter Shelters' proposal was unlike anything they had built before. Managing Director, Jonathan Bhowmick, explained: “We’ve pioneered the use of glulam timbers in canopies in schools, but have never proposed a design like this. The school’s architecture deserved a particularly special addition, so we pulled out all the stops.”

Mounted off the large beams that are integral to the design of the nine classrooms, the canopies swoop down, providing ample room and protection from the elements, whilst accommodating the tree that is planted outside of each classroom. 

“We wanted to mirror the circular design in the paving stones underfoot, to make it look like the canopy had always been a part of the building,” Jonathan said.  

UV-resistant polycarbonate prevents heat-build up beneath the canopies, whilst the nature of the canopy also provides protection from the rain. With such an exciting and functional design, Water Hall Primary are overjoyed with the completion of their new canopy project.

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