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, specialists in tensile fabric structures, 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 1,640-square-foot 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-percent light transmission, blocks harmful UV rays, does not require monitoring or inflation systems, is 100-percent 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.