The best school shade is the ‘shade that is used most often’. Although students can be supervised to eat their lunch under any shade, at play they will choose light, warm and interesting play spaces.
Communal shade is a space where 35 students could gather comfortably in a group. They can be used for a variety of activities such as lunch eating, free play and outdoor learning.
The raised timber ‘stage’ under shade fabric ‘sails’ forms seating for students to use while eating their lunch. ‘Diffuse’ UV is successfully controlled by the shielding of adjacent buildings and planting. During the lunch hour, this shade was observed to be a popular scene for junior play. At its centre the structure achieved 95% UVR protection. This is achieved by a high performing shade cloth and the large area of centralized shade.
Court shade is used for eating lunch, free play and physical education classes. Junior play is less structured and therefore not impaired by support poles of sails and pavilions. In all cases the material used was shade fabric, constructed as sails or stretched over a pavilion frame. Triangular sails, although visually appealing, do not achieve good overall coverage.
There is a conflict of pool shading reducing the solar heating of the water and protecting students from extreme UVR levels, particularly during the lunchbreak. Providing pool-side shade using shade cloth is an useful compromise along with the monitoring sunscreen application before swimming. This simple shade-cloth provides protection for spectators and classes waiting to use the pool.
For active sports, personal UVR protection is most appropriate, but for passive spectators, shade protection is worthwhile. Deciduous trees placed along northern boundaries give excellent summer shade while allowing sun onto the field in the winter. Alternatively, evergreen or deciduous trees placed on the south side of a field provide shade from the high summer sun.
Targeting popular play equipment such as adventure play equipment and sand-pits by either trees or shade-cloth is a good strategy.
An ‘oversized’ suspended shade-cloth provides effective shade over play equipment.
In city schools low structures that easy to climb are often subject to vandalism. This can be solved by fencing the area to exclude cats and dogs and installing the shade-cloth only during school hours in the summer.
For more information about school shade structures and the options to provide shade for the school environment check out Nova Shades at http://www.novashades.co.nz