It “takes a village to raise a child,” and the school design selected by Coopers Edge Primary in Gloucester, England, included a Village Square for children to play and the greater community to assemble. The plan called for a covered courtyard that would “inspire and enable people, while energizing the community and enhancing [their] quality of life,” according to the school’s Board of Governors. The school enlisted Fabric Architecture Ltd. of Gloucester, to fulfill its vision while meeting several requirements: a fabric roof that looked as if it was floating; no masts touching the ground to obstruct wheelchairs or tempt children to climb; year-round, rain-or-shine usable space; and lots of light without a heated “greenhouse” effect.
The company created a 148m2 canopy that is flat, except for 15 conical head-rings that act as light wells for the area below. The fabric of Silicone Glass Weave, which Fabric Architecture pioneered, offers 40% light transmission, blocks harmful UV rays, does not require monitoring or inflation systems, is 100% recyclable and costs less than ETFE membrane. The structural framework connects to adjoining buildings through a series of trusses and is fitted with lights and speakers for music and announcements.