Signature Structure.

Staff working at NEXT’s Head Office in Leicester, no longer have childcare worries since their employer commissioned a fabulous new nursery for their families.

The purpose built facility wraps around an open air courtyard with a fabric canopy as its centre piece. Everything is perfectly proportioned and low level for the tiny tots, including round windows and triangular windows in bright primary colours. For group activities, the clever use of sliding doors and demountable glazed partitions create a large open space instantly.

The challenge.

Pick Everard, the architects behind the lovely plans were keen to use fabric with high translucent properties to keep the courtyard as light as possible, but provide a covered outdoor play space.

The courtyard would be surrounded by corridors leading into other playrooms, a sleep room and a soft play space. This meant that the 8m Single Conic fabric canopy would have to be installed right at the end of the project and lifted over the single storey building and into the courtyard by crane.

The solution.

We selected a specialist fabric from Japan that is semi-translucent with a light transmission of 35%. On its upper surface a heat protective coating gives the fabric a beautiful pearlescent finish, which also helps prevent dirt from settling.

This is the first time the Hiroaka fabric has been used in the UK so we carried out Biaxial tests to determine the best way to pattern the canopy. One of the benefits of this Type 2 fabric for the client is its 15 year standard warranty.

The installation of the 5m tall steelwork and 8m wide canopy was completed within 1 day, using a 2 man team and a 55 tonne crane supplied by a local hire company.