New Hall School, Chelmsford, Essex

Case Study Highlights

ProjectNew Hall School, Chelmsford, Essex
ScopeORION Triple Barrel Vault Canopy
TRITION Monopitch Canopy

New Hall School is a Catholic independent boarding and day school for girls and boys aged 1-18, located in a former Tudor palace and set in stunning countryside on the outskirts of the City of Chelmsford, Essex.

New Hall School is the only independent Roman Catholic school in the Diocese and one of the largest and also the oldest of its kind in the country.

With a requirement for significant areas of new external covered space for play, break-out, student activities and dining; New Hall School were looking for a canopy provider that could demonstrate the level of bespoke design and construction capability to deliver on this. Although the canopy projects had been in the pipeline for a few years, the pandemic made the need for covered, well-ventilated space a requirement to enable the safe and orderly return of students to school in September 2020.

An ORION Triple Barrel Vault Canopy provides 660m2 of cover for the Prep Playground creating a genuinely multi-use area for teaching, play and events. The architectural PVC membrane translucency provides diffused natural lighting and the tall centreline creates a spacious feel to the area. The Triple Barrel Vault design ensures that the maximum height of the canopy structure is reduced in keeping with the historic school buildings. Integrated rainwater systems enable maintenance access and the timber post cladding soften the appearance of the structural steelwork.. Rubber crumb surfacing throughout the canopy area provides a safe, clean and visually attractive area for the younger students.

The second ORION Tensile Membrane Canopy alongside New Hall School’s Walkfares Performing Arts Centre is also a triple barrel vault design. At 42m width and 22m in length the canopy covers over 920m2 with the entire area surfaced in synthetic turf. Together these canopies create the largest sheltered performance and recreational areas in the School.

Two smaller TRITON Mono Canopies provide a 4.5m cover alongside almost 40m of classrooms. The graphite grey coated steel frame and grey tinted glass roof structures extend learning areas into the enriching outdoor environment.

The new canopy structures help enhance educational opportunities in the curriculum and co-curriculum, supporting increased outdoor learning and recreation with the proven benefits this can bring for both mental and physical wellbeing.

By September 2020, New Hall School was able to reintroduce activities including sports, dance, performances (including drama, instrumental and choirs) and assemblies using the new canopy structures during a period in which these activities were not permitted indoors due to the pandemic risks.

On social media, New Hall School commented: “We’d like to say a massive thank you to Streetspace Ltd for constructing this absolutely stunning canopy! In addition to keeping pupils dry during the wetter months, these canopies will allow us to reintroduce several activities whilst adhering to social distancing rules/year group bubbles! #thankyou.”

Mr Sidwell, Vice Principal at New Hall School (Boarding & Operations) said: “The additional large covered outdoor spaces will prove invaluable for evening and weekend activities for our boarders when the weather takes a turn for the worse.”

Mr Meakin, Director of Music at New Hall School commented: “Performing in an outdoor space gives musicians a totally different environment in which to perform, both for classical and contemporary genres.  The new covered areas not only give us more open and ventilated spaces to assist with the current climate, but also to expose our students to different acoustics, performance arrangements and audience interaction.  The canopies will also offer our students new opportunities to explore and understand music technology and sound production, and how making music outdoors affects this aspect of a performance.”

Mrs Molina, Head of Dance at New Hall School expressed her excitement to be able to run more dance classes using these canopies: “As one of the best academic schools for dance in the UK, we are looking forward to using this space for lots of outdoor dance classes allowing the pupils to have more freedom. This will allow dancers to use the environment to inspire creativity and expression through movement.”

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