Covered outdoor spaces for new Totnes Primary School


S part of a £7m construction of the new Dartington Church of England Primary School in Totnes, Devon, Able Canopies designed, supplied and installed a number of bespoke timber canopies to provide versatile outdoor spaces for pupils and teachers. The new school replaced the previous eco-school, which opened in 2010 but was closed in 2014 because of serious issues with the roof. The new development, which consists of 12 classrooms and a range of modern facilities, will be used by 315 primary school pupils and 30 Early Years children.

An important aspect of the design of the school was to establish a free flow between the inside and the outside. The canopies were an important part of creating a space that could be used throughout the school year. More than 130 m of Able Canopies’ wall mounted Tarnhow system was installed and wrapped around the building. This includes a 90° ‘hip’ and a 45° valley at the entrance as well as variations in ground height. The canopy projects 4 m from the classrooms and the floor to ceiling glazing allows the teaching staff to supervise the children at all times. The canopy not only provides shelter from the rain, but the polycarbonate roof panels also offer shade and protection from the sun.

The Tarnhow canopy system, which features Glulam timber beams, was chosen to continue the natural look that was established by the design of the main school building. Jamie Knode from

Atkins Global architects explained: “The school is within a conservation area so the way it would integrate and complement its surroundings was a key consideration. Adding a canopy to the building can have a huge effect on the look of a structure and by using a timber frame canopy we were able soften the look of the building and help give it a more natural appearance.”

A bespoke approach was taken to allow the canopy to ‘lean into the structure’ to take some of the load allowing wider than standard spans between the posts. This minimised the total number of posts to create a clearer, more open space. The supports were also protected with colourful post pads to ensure the safety of the children.

The wall mounted Tarnhow canopy was also used to create covered areas at the entrance where parents can wait when collecting their children from school and a freestanding Tarnhow structure was utilised as a bicycle storage area. Due to the specific, custom

requirements of the project, specialised steelwork and brackets were required to achieve the installation. Able Canopies worked closely with architects Atkins Global and main contractors Kier to integrate the canopy into the build of the school. The fixings and steelwork had to be installed during the construction of the main building ready for the canopy to be erected towards the end of the project. The canopy was further integrated with the building as it formed part of the rainwater management system of the 31

building. The roof was designed to overhang the canopy so that the water drained off the main roof and into the gutter system on the canopy. This was done to simplify the system and will make maintenance easier by bringing the gutter height down – reducing both the short term and long- term costs of the building.

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