Should we have an open or enclosed dining canopy at our school?

Posted by Admin

With extensive constraints on their budgets, facilities and space, many schools struggle to provide their pupils with a dining room big enough to fit everyone comfortably in a single sitting. This can leave pupils eating at staggered times and in different places, creating timetabling and supervision challenges, requiring more staff to supervise and giving students additional opportunities to evade supervision.  

One cost-effective, solution which can be swiftly implemented is to construct a dining canopy as a dedicated meal-time area, easing pressure on indoor canteens and other parts of the buildings. A canopy will cost a fraction of constructing an extension for a dining hall, freeing up funds to spend on other things. Equally, canopies can be in place within weeks and can be used flexibly for different functions as well as dining – so they can double up, for example, as an additional teaching space.

What’s more, these bespoke solutions suit all sizes and types of schools.

As with anything else, you’ll need to look at all the available options before you commit to a canopy. And it’s understandable if you’re wary of spending too much of your school’s budget on a single upgrade. But one thing you will need to decide is whether to go for an open or fully enclosed structure for your dining canopy.

We have taken a look at the pros and cons of open and enclosed dining canopies:

  • An open canopy

This has no sidewalls, allowing for more air flow. The benefits of giving school pupils access to fresh air have been well documented. And if you have memories of airless dining halls from your own school days, and wafting, stale school-dinner smells, you’re certainly not alone.

If they’ve been inside all morning, time outside under an open dining canopy can give children a proper break, so that they return to lessons feeling refreshed and ready to focus for the remainder of the school day. The airflow also means everyone stays cooler during summer heatwaves.

At the same time, a standard open canopy will be your most cost-effective option.

  • An enclosed canopy

This is an enclosed structure with doors and sidewalls, providing further protection against wind and rain. This boosts your canopy’s durability and longevity, plus your space will clearly be warmer and more comfortable during the cooler months with options for adding electricity and heating.

Sidewalls can take a number of forms, including glass or polycarbonate, or retractable external blinds for added flexibility. Opening doors can transform the space into an outdoor room.

It’s worth noting, however, that even these are not completely enclosed, due to wind uplift and to ensure good airflow and ventilation. As a safety measure, a small gap is typically left at the bottom of the panels so that a small quantity of air can flow through. This guarantees a rigid, safe structure capable of withstanding high winds for years to come.

Dining canopies from Kensington Systems

Take a closer look at what we have to offer at Kensington Systems. The modular, long-lasting design of our Spaceshade® dining canopies means it is easy to create an attractive, high-quality space that enhances the school environment.  

Groundworks are always included in our service as standard, and we’ll project mange the entire installation on your behalf from start to finish. We can also discuss whether your site would better suit an enclosed or open-sided canopy. For example, if you would like to install a canopy in a courtyard, sidewalls on all sides may not be necessary.

Get in touch today for a no-obligation quote and a free site survey.

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