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Avoiding sunlight in school

  1. May 21, 2015 #1
    This is my school's assembly area :


    The place is generally used for the assembly and various other things. But the problem is that it receives a lot of sunlight and it is difficult to use it during the later part of the day.

    So, I would like something like a roof, which doesn't entirely block out sunlight but makes the place a little more comfortable.

    One thing I have thought of is installing small nets or rods and then growing creepers on it which would act as a roof. But I am unsure whether this is practical.

    P.S. The solution must be cheap and if possible eco-friendly.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2015 #2


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    Apply sunscreen.
  4. May 21, 2015 #3
    Um... No. We specifically want a roof. Sunscreens can't protect you from rain.
  5. May 21, 2015 #4


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    So, you do not have an auditorium for inside gatherings? Gatherings in school are usually for talks and presentation, school plays, music concerts, they might have video or at least slides so outdoors is not good. What is the need to gather outdoors? Perhaps there is no real need for these gatherings.
  6. May 21, 2015 #5
    We do not have an auditorium. The gatherings are usually for the morning prayers and other functions. One reason why we need the place covered is that if on some days we want to go and study outside the class, there is some comfortable place we can go to.
  7. May 21, 2015 #6


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    Is the school willing to pay for the modifications?
  8. May 21, 2015 #7
    Yeah. Actually, it's not me who thought for the roof. The head of my school gave it away as a challenge to the higher classes to find an optimum solution for the problem.
  9. May 22, 2015 #8
    Kind of difficult to put a normal roof over such a large area, so outside the box is the way to go, and evaluate for effectiveness.
    Not so sure about something to keep you dry thoughout the whole area.

    The idea of the creepers on the nets seems to be a good idea.
    How heavy would it get, so perhaps multiple net areas so if one goes down the rest still function.
    From where will the creepers get their nourishment.
    By creepers, I assume you mean a type of vine like plant.

    You could put several tent roofs in selected spots.
    Or string several cables from one end of the area to the other and hang large banners to produce a shade but still have a feeling of openness.
  10. May 22, 2015 #9


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    Stuff like these, maybe?
    A number of those could be strung between the walls of the courtyard to cover parts or all of the area. Some clever arrangement could give it a nice, modern look with traditional, tent-like vibes. Many small-to-medium-sided ones would be preferable to one huge canvas.
    A central pole could be installed to allow for a better coverage and perhaps facilitate a folding mechanism. When not in use it could double up as a flag pole. Or you could just get some longer cables to help cover the mid-section; or even leave it open.

    It's easy to draw a few angled triangles over the picture of the area, so you (and your class) could have a go at finding the best, most aesthetically pleasing arrangement.
  11. May 23, 2015 #10
    Yeah. I mean some plants which would entwine to the nets. But one thing I am not sure about it's stability. We don't want the nets to fall over.

    For the nourishment part, it's not visible in the photo but the first floor is empty. So, we can place many large pots on the first floor and provide water from there. Another problem I can think of is maintenance. Maintaining plants hanging there at the first floor would be difficult I guess.

    Another alternative is to install metal rods with circular rings and place the pots in those rings.
  12. May 23, 2015 #11
    This seems like a good idea. I don't know why din't think of this. Well, one of the problems with this is erecting poles or pillars is not feasible(or should I say not allowed). It would block the way. Would this work if tied from end to end or maybe along the shorter diagonals?
  13. May 23, 2015 #12


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    Do you get snow there?
  14. May 23, 2015 #13
  15. May 23, 2015 #14

    I have about 15 years architectural experience, and could probably help you with some of the details. The sail idea seems like a good idea on first glance, but in order to really see if anything is viable there has to be more information than a photo. A few things one would need to know:

    What are the dimensions of the atrium area?
    What kind of wall construction is that surrounding area made of?
    How high is the roof to be?
    What is the overall seasonal weather?
    Can you supply a floor plan of that space - the shape seems a little less regular than one would hope for.

    EDIT: i should mention that judging from the picture the space seems VERY large, and you will likely be looking at a non roof solution but more of a strategic placing of individual shades at ground level.
  16. May 24, 2015 #15
    Rough Blueprint.png
    Well, this is a rough sketch of how the place looks from above. The dimensions I am not sure about but must be around 100 m x 30 m. The height of the roof must be at the end of first floor. So, about two floors high.

    About the seasonal weather : It's India, so it's usually more on the hotter side. The place is very near to the coast, so it's quite humid too. Summers are very hot, upto 45 C. Moderate monsoons and winters. A bit windy sometimes.
  17. May 24, 2015 #16


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    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  18. May 24, 2015 #17

    India! I lived there for a year - up near Chennai. So yes - on the hotter side (a bit of an understatement really).
    I would assume that you school has actual construction drawings. If the administration is asking you to do this, then I would think you could demand to see them. This would also allow you to see what the wall construction is as well - you did not indicate that yet.

    So let's assume you are looking to cover something over that is 30 meters wide - 100 feet! (construction units tend to remain in imperial - people like to call a stud wall made up of 2 by 4's not 38 by 89's)

    100 feet is a very big span to cover with a tarp.In general terms, if you cover a distance larger than 20 meters, you have gone into a situation where a structural engineer may be asked in to figure out how to anchor your structure properly. Considering that at this point I don't even know WHAT you would be anchoring into, then I would recommend against any large structure. If you are trying to find a cheap solution, then a large tent crossing the atrium is out. If you look at the picture posted before, you can see that these triangle sails are really only going about half that distance, if that.

    In my estimation you have three routes:

    1. individual seating area with an umbrella type cover. Large enough and you can cover groups of 6 -8 people at a time. You would probably be looking at the seating as a permanent situation, so locating them in a spot you really think works for the kind of things going on in the space would be important. The umbrellas could be taken down if needed.

    2. canopies around the perimeter. This would create a seating area around the edge - probably able to extend out about 3 meters from the wall. These can be permanent or temporary. But it will still leave the center open.

    3. you could create a grid of short posts - 10 feet high maybe - and strong canopy fabric between them. If you keep building out (spacing those posts about 12-15 feet apart) you could possibly solve your problem entirely. If you hook up the canopy material through eyelets, then they can be pulled back when you don't want to the shade. The only downside is that your big open space is now littered with posts. But it avoids using your building as a structural support. Picture a grid of 12 x 12 squares where each space is covered by a single fabric. It actually may look very nice. Note that the issue here is that it requires POSTS. And there is cost and labor associated with putting those into the ground.

    OR you can create a solution by using a combination of these ideas
  19. May 25, 2015 #18
    Whatever the thing is, that shall be attached to the columns of the building.

    Sitting spots are not a good option I feel. I am unable to understand your 3rd idea. Can you please post some picture/diagram?
  20. May 27, 2015 #19


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    Except that he already said that erecting posts was not allowed.
  21. May 28, 2015 #20


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    To the OP:

    I've looked at the picture of the assembly area, and from what you've described, I do not believe it is possible to erect any type of roof or canopy over such a large, wide area, especially given that posts are not allowed. In order to erect any type of structure, there needs to be some type of structure that will support a canopy, net, or something else.

    I was born in and spent part of my childhood in Japan, which also has hot, humid summers (although not as hot as India), and is also subject to monsoon rains (important for rice planting). Here are my suggestions:

    (1) Have each student wear a hat with a wide brim for protection, and sunglasses to protect their eyes (I'm aware that India has one of the highest rates of cataracts in the world, due in part to constant exposure to very hot sun). This can be incorporated as part of the student's class uniform.

    (2) Have either each student carry a parasol/umbrella, or have groups of students carry an extra large umbrella (that can fit up to 3-5 people).
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