Pop-up tent provides social distancing solution for London primary

Manorfield Primary School in Tower Hamlets is the first to trial a pop-up structure designed by a London architect firm to optimise social distancing.

The pop-up tent provides a classroom and lunch area. Photo by Kilian O'Sullivan.
The pop-up tent provides a classroom and lunch area. Photo by Kilian O'Sullivan.

Inspired by outdoor learning at schools in Denmark, the pop-up tent designed by Curl La Tourelle Head, and measuring 6 x 18 metres, addresses the challenge of maintaining social distancing as pupils return to their classrooms.

The concept focuses on utilising outdoor space to ease the circulation load in existing school buildings. It involves reusing resources including festival marquees, that would otherwise be dormant, to build temporary classrooms and portable facilities incorporated with the two-metre social distancing rules.

Not only will the pop-up structures enable better spacing between individuals, they will also create more capacity to take on further pupils. As well as improving air-flow and wellbeing, the architects see this as an opportunity to utilise public or large outdoor spaces in unconventional ways that might not be thought of previously.

The temporary structure has been used to host classrooms and as a lunch area for pupils, delivering at least 25 per cent more socially distanced capacity than what the school currently offers.

The architects aim to demonstrate that under the constraints imposed by COVID-19, it is still possible to create an environment that can safely accommodate more pupils but also allow the social distancing rules to be observed.

Paul Jackson, headteacher, Manorfield Primary School, said: ‘Our children have been out of school for far too long. We want to bring as many children back to school in as safe a way as possible.

‘We won’t bring back more children than it is safe to and need to find creative solutions to enable the wider opening of schools. The creation of additional pop-up accommodation in our playground will support us in doing this and meeting the needs of our children. We are very excited to see more of them returning to school.’

The pop-up tent at Manorfield Primary School, supplied by Original Marquees is expected to stay until the end of the current school term.

Find out more about Curl la Tourelle Head here

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