The UK’s leading street furniture design manufacturers Broxap, in partnership with Kier Regional Ltd and Behrouz Shomali at Architects Co-Partnership have completed this bespoke ‘design and build’ architectural feature canopy for the Francis Combe Academy in Watford, just outside London.
This single-roofed, mono-pitched structure is an impressive architectural feat. At the heart of this design are glued laminated (Glulam) timber support beams which would normally enable the structure to span large distances without intermediate columns, creating an uninterrupted composition. However the use of striking steel yellow columns supporting the timber beams throughout this design are a deliberate and unique design feature.
Working in combination with the timber beams, the use of glass helps to merge the inside with the outside, yet still creating different designated areas. The design plays around with the architectural tradition of distinct and immovable lines and borders, by creating a fluid space that encourages interaction.
Creating an adaptable dimension to the space is integral to the design as the canopy is situated in a landlocked courtyard running along the inner elevation of the academy’s new building which could have been suffocating or overwhelming considering its location.
The structure itself covers 1,200 m2 and at the highest point it reaches 10m high and is 90m in length. As part of the construction a crane situated 100m away, on the other side of the building, was used to install the sections.
Architectural features like the the reflectivity of the canopy in the glass exterior show the design as not being absorbed by or just merely fixed to the side of another structure, but it gives it greater reach and depth. It allows the canopy to also form a connection, a partnership with the school building.
The school believes their ‘cutting-edge facilities’, as part of the £25 million pound refurbishment will ‘inspire creativity and achievement’, as well as facilitating itself as a greater ‘avenue for success through learning’, through its cutting-edge architectural design and multi-purpose functionality.
This impressive canopy formed part of a complete redesign project for the school and helped to create 1350 more pupil spaces. This involved a combination of 80% new build and 20% refurbishment and took a total of 26 weeks to complete.