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Fabric-covered classrooms earn OFPANZ Supreme Award

Swatches | January 1, 2021 | By:

Valmex® Lodge de Luxe from Mehler Texnologies provides a waterproof outer skin to the wooden frames and shells of these classroom pods, along with a green aesthetic that allows the buildings to blend into the environment. Photos: Mehler Texnologies/Low & Bonar GmbH.

New Zealand’s Green School describes its campus as “a place for inspired learning,” and now three fabric-covered pod-like classrooms are inspiring students as well. 

Fabric Structures Ltd. of Whangarei, New Zealand, supplied a membrane solution for the structures, earning the Supreme Award in the 2020 Awards of Excellence from the Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand (OFPANZ). 

The structures were designed with the most organic materials available, complementing the school’s environmental mission while providing students with shelter nestled in a serene natural setting. The membrane needed to function as an aesthetic covering while creating a ventilated thermal barrier to reduce heat soak. 

Fabric Structures chose a relatively new material, Valmex® Lodge de Luxe from Mehler Texnologies, a fabric often used for safari lodges, to cover the 500-square-meter pods. The curved shapes predominant in the design create a distinct atmosphere but contributed to the complexity of the project, along with the light materials. The glulam timber beams created large tolerances on-site, requiring steel to be custom fit to each of the three structures and 3D digitizing to design and construct the membranes. The high stretch of the fabric paired with the shape of the structures added to the complexity of staged tensioning over multiple weeks. 

Project partners included architect/designer Boon Architects and engineering firm Nagel Consultants Ltd. For a complete list of OFPANZ 2020 award winners, visit

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