Specialist supplier MMA Architectural Systems has designed and installed an innovative solution to help create additional play space for children at an Infants School in Essex. As part of the Government’s Sure Start initiative, Furze Primary School in Dagenham had a requirement to accommodate 50 additional children into the existing school. With the school site unable to accommodate a new building, the school’s governors appointed Anne Thornton Architects Partnership to identify potential solutions to solve the problem.
After considering a number of options, the decision was taken to demolish one of the existing, single storey buildings (which housed the school hall and kitchen) and to construct a new building. This new two‐storey structure would again contain a hall and kitchen area, but would additionally provide new classroom space; the scheme also included a rather radical plan to develop a children’s playground on the roof of the building. This solution would give the older children in the school their own classroom and play‐space, releasing an existing classroom and conventional playground space for the new Sure Start pupils (0 to 4 years).
Commenting on the design, architect Anne Thornton said: “Once we had agreed the design concept, one of the critical considerations was safety ‐ the roof top playground having to be completely safe for the children, with their being no risk of them climbing out; or of toys, balls etc being thrown from the area. At the same time, as with a traditional playground, it was important for the area to be open to the elements at all times.”
“After a detailed examination of the available options, we specified MMA’s Jakob Webnet product and worked with the company’s design team to develop a solution which would completely enclose both the perimeter and the roof space itself with the stainless steel mesh system. We are delighted with the result, which has made accessible an area which would otherwise have been dead space – and it’s clear that the children are equally pleased with their new, high‐level playground!”
Webnet is a versatile, pliable, high strength mesh system which is manufactured from High Grade 316 Stainless Steel Rope. An innovative, highly durable product, Webnet may be used in many different applications, including: balustrading, enclosures, art forms, plant supports, safety nets, fencing and aviaries.
Available in a wide range of sizes, Webnet may be coated in any RAL colour, to suit specific design and functional project needs. The system is both UV and weather resistant ‐ perfect for outdoor use and ideal for harsh environments, including coastal areas.
At Furze school, the Webnet system will also perform a ‘greening’ function, with a variety of climbing and creeping plants being trained to grow up the structure – fulfilling both an aesthetic purpose and a practical one, giving areas of shade for the children, to protect them from the sun. An added benefit to the Webnet system is that it is quiet on impact from the inevitable stray ball!
As well as on the roof area, Webnet has also been used internally at the school, with the system acting as an infill to the staircase which leads from the first floor classroom to the roof playground – giving the children an obvious visual link and ‘signpost’ to their playground.