Canopy examples to inspire your next outdoor project

If you’re looking for some inspiration to transform your outdoor space over the summer period, canopies are well worth looking at.

Canopies can reinvent, rejuvenate and bring new colour to an environment, at the same time as being the perfect way of adding shelter, shade and atmosphere to forgotten spaces. In this article, we’ll be looking at some canopy inspiration, whether by adding retractable shade roofs to your outdoor space, or adding sails above garden patio areas.

Here are seven different canopy examples to inspire your next project.

Adding shade to spots that get the sun

In areas that get constant sun, we stock smaller pre-designed canopies that offer excellent shading – especially when strung together or placed in larger areas. For more protection from the glare, we also offer retractable solar shading from major manufacturers. Our expert canopy team can help you design the best fit for your space.

To add atmosphere and partition areas of a building

Canopies act as excellent dividers, adding intrigue and reveals to garden and patio spaces with relatively minimal effort required when it comes to installation and maintenance. They work especially well in smaller garden spaces to create canopy shading, shelter and protection from the elements too.

Adding to hospitality, restaurants and pub gardens

Over the past year or so, many outdoor spaces have been dramatically expanded to ensure capacity is maintained throughout social distancing. Adding a canopy to provide shelter to outdoor spaces is an easy thing to do – canopies can be designed to work around existing seating arrangements and outdoor configurations.

In playgrounds and to increase learning space

As well as providing a vibrant new social and community space suitable for use in all weather conditions to the facilities, a low cost canopy scheme can provide schools and university and educational premises with a covered outdoor learning space, to expand learning facilities and offer new opportunities to learn outside.

To provide shelter for stages

A performance canopy can offer a great central hub for recreation and entertainment for a town center or venue and is highly versatile offering the option to host all manner of events from festival, theatre or music concerts, open air film performances or sporting events. Some of our pre-designed solutions offer demountable rear and side walls that can be removed to prevent vandalism when performances are not taking place. The steelwork can also been specifically designed to support a full range of stage lighting equipment, creating a theatrical facility worthy of any star performance.

For recreation and leisure

With the desire for more outdoor living ever increasing, canopies can bring a number of opportunities for the leisure sectors. Whether providing sun protection during the summer months with attractive umbrella style canopies or more robust seasonal wind shelter, a covered outdoor space will create an inviting space for dining, socialising or events and be a space where customers will want to spend time.

Get ready for spring: how city dressing can transform a space after winter

Winter has been a time to regroup, and fortunately, spring is now emerging. The late winter period has given us the perfect opportunity to reimagine forgotten spaces, transform how we use others and make sure that areas we don’t use over the down seasons are revitalised and reinvigorated ready for a fresh influx of people on the streets.

In this article, we’ll be sharing some thoughts on some easy steps to take, both in public and domestic spaces, that enable us to bring fresh thought and perspective, and allow us to use our outdoor environments to the best of their ability through sunnier times.

Add planters and flower beds

With more and more spaces in urban areas changing use, it gives us a good opportunity to look at disused areas, and consider how we can add colour, brightness and a touch of nature to them. Small planters, flower beds and areas to allow plants to grow wildly is the perfect thing to do here. It costs very little, causes minimal disruption and is something that can literally grow and evolve over time.

String up lights or use eco-friendly lanterns

Poor lighting is one common bug-bear of lesser-used areas in our urban spaces, but with a bit of thought, atmospheric lighting can quite literally brighten up a space and bring new life into otherwise dull areas. Festoon lighting is popular, suitable for all-weather uses and attaching to temporary structures such as canopies and is also very affordable and versatile.

Create more seating room

As the weather warms up, people will naturally want to sit outside. But instead of just making room for chairs and tables, it’s worth thinking creatively as to how you can use the built environment around you to provide seating spaces. Seating spaces can also be built in multi-use environments, incorporating bike storage, electric charging points or even popup gardens or parklets, for example.

Consider adding grass or natural environmental features to your outdoor space

Green space is scientifically proven to work wonders on our brains and bodies, stimulating better moods and increased physical and mental health. Building green spaces into our urban areas has been increasingly important, and the rise of green spaces being constructed  in otherwise derelict or abandoned land is encouraging. Even planting a small amount of grass, or using living roofs, for example, allows animal and insect species to thrive and provide a better space around all of us.

Create space for entertainment

Temporary spaces for restaurants, bars and stages can easily be implemented as part of city dressing certain areas in time for spring and summer. Twinned with the right lighting and seating space, trailers serving food and drinks, pop-up stages, bars and other entertainment areas can add liveliness, a sense of busyness and a central focus to areas that have otherwise stood empty through the winter season.

How good maintenance can prevent against wind damage

With a host of recent bad weather and a number of named storms hitting the shores of the UK this winter, widespread damage to both temporary and permanent structures has been seen across the country. From parts of established structures to poorly secured or maintained temporary installations, damage has been seen in many areas across a wide range of building types. Much of this damage can be limited or prevented in some way by safety practices and good, thorough maintenance.

In this article, we’ll be looking at some simple things you can do to prepare for windy weather in the UK.

Check your structure’s wind load capabilities

Every fabric used on canopies behaves slightly differently in windy conditions, so it pays to check the safety credentials of your structures. Fabric canopies and structures are designed to perform well in windy conditions, but only if they’re engineered and then erected properly in the first place, and most need suitable space and the right fittings and fixtures to accommodate deflections and oscillations in stormy or windy conditions. If in doubt, contact Base Structures and speak to one of our experts to ensure your fabric structure is right for you.

Make sure the fabric is properly cleaned

As a fabric canopy or structure is used, it gets covered with dirt and grime that needs to be periodically cleaned off. If the build up of this dirt gets too much, it can damage the lacquer on the fabric and compromise the fabric integrity and longevity. Cleaning a canopy not only improves its aesthetic qualities, ensuring its integrity will significantly enhance its ability to withstand poor weather, making it a much better long term investment.

Check your structure’s tension

Cleaning is one major contributory factor to canopies withstanding wind and rain, but many people forget that after years of use, the cables used to keep fabric structures in place can slacken, increasing the stress loads on the structure as a whole and causing more damage than if cables were taught. You also need to check that the cables you’ve used are in good condition – not rusty, bent or degraded to a point that they may not do the intended job when put under load.

Repair holes in the canopy for greater integrity

Over time, fabric structures can pick up holes and tears. Flying debris in storms or even birds pecking at your canopy will create tiny weak spots that over time can rip and cause bigger issues. As part of your canopy maintenance, it makes sense to not only clean your canopy properly but also invest in repairs to small holes and punctures. If ignored, small weaknesses can damage the integrity of the membrane in the fabric and cause greater problems further down the line.

Canopy Replacement: How Replacing Old Fabric Canopies Improves Building Lifespan

Over the years, canopy fabric technology has improved dramatically, and although in most cases our pre-designed canopies or bespoke systems will still be doing their job, a revitalised setup with a new, more technologically advanced fabric coating can bring a fresher look, improved security and safety and a longer lifespan to your building.

In this blog post, we’ll be looking at some reasons to replace old fabric canopies, and suggest some creative and inventive ways to avoid landfill and reuse the old ones.

In many cases, increased lifespans have improved canopy guarantees and warranties over the years. This adds peace of mind for the consumer, and a greater confidence that newer, more advanced canopies will improve on your old ones. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to know more about specific products we work with.

Improves the look and feel

There’s no getting away from the fact that old canopies, after years of winter seasons and protecting buildings against the elements, start to look tired. Good cleaning and canopy maintenance can significantly help increase the lifespan of a canopy, but after a while a new one is the way to go – especially if you’re twinning this with other building or site improvements. 

We can design fabric cladding systems like we did at Sainsburys in Crayford to change the look of a site and provide an updated look as well as provide greater protection against the elements.

Avoid landfill

When you take an old canopy down, you’ll inevitably then be faced with the question of what to do with it now. Reusing old canopies for festivals and events is popular, and we’ve worked with many clients over the years to ensure old canopies avoid landfill and get used in an environmentally conscious and attractive way. We have also helped turn take down fabric into ground mats, weather proofing and many other functions.

Protects users against poor weather

Over time, the efficiency of a fabric canopy can diminish – damage can be mitigated by a good maintenance schedule – but essentially after a while canopies that are in poor shape won’t provide the protection required. This is where replacement canopies come in – and we can recycle and reuse old canopies to ensure they don’t end up in landfill, too.

Add additional outdoor space

Replacing an older structure at the end of its life means you have a good opportunity to redesign your canopy and replace it with something that better suits your needs – perhaps you want to expand your outdoor seating area or provide greater shelter for customers entering

To make a statement

When we replaced the stand canopy at Lord Cricket Ground, it not only increased the lifespan of the building and the stand, but added a new aesthetic to the building which future proofed it. We were also finalists in the 2006 Building Sustainability Awards for this project, as we partnered with a PVC recycler in France to ensure all the original fabric we removed was put to good use.

To encorporate new technology 

Sometimes, time and technology has moved on since a client replaced their fabric roof, so it’s worth getting a new one to ensure that the latest technology and safety requirements are met. We did this at Portobello Market in London – working with our client to replace an ageing roof system that would provide shelter for shoppers and market traders alike. 

When it comes to replacing and reusing a canopy, we can advise on the best course of action for you. We will ensure that, where possible, older canopies don’t get send directly to landfill – making use of them in other ways such as repurposing for festivals and art installations. A replacement canopy can also transform a space and allow you to redesign areas of your outdoor environment. Contact us today for a friendly chat to see how we can help.

Outdoor Winter Dining – How to Keep Customers Happy Outdoors in Winter

As the darker nights draw in, hospitality and event venues will be looking at strategies to keep warm, cosy environments for customers and patrons to use. As well keeping social distancing strategies in place and mitigating against any rise in COVID cases, giving some thought to your outdoor winter dining environment during the colder seasons can create atmosphere and extra seating space to increase business revenue. In this blog post, we’ll be looking at some techniques, products and strategies you can use to keep your outdoor environments in a habitable state through the winter period.

Look to create protection from the elements

A key issue, and probably one of the first things you’ll think about, is how to keep customers protected from the inevitable worsening of the winter weather during the colder months. A product like a pre-designed canopy can add shelter from wind and rain, and you may want to twin these with blankets, patio heaters and extra heat sources to provide additional comfort. Through the pandemic, we’ve also seen people use glasshouses, igloos, tipis and other bespoke and custom products for that extra wow factor.

Be flexible with payment options and bookings

If you’re settling customers outside in the poor weather and keeping them sheltered and warm, it’s worth thinking then about how best to minimise the amount of movement they’ll have to make – you want to make the guest experience as seamless and attractive as possible. Luckily, there are now hundreds of contactless and seamless booking, ordering and payment systems on the market to enable customers to stay under shelter and not have to wander backwards and forward past potentially uncovered or poorly sheltered areas.

outdoor winter dining

Extend your conveniences

If you’re expanding your operation to include more outdoor areas and seating – it’s worth then thinking about what benefits there are to sitting outside. Perhaps you could think about extending WiFi range, screens, adding additional bathroom spaces or bespoke architectural fabric or event canopies to create intrigue, flexibility and the possibility of multi-use operation once the weather warms up again.

Think of atmosphere and decoration

No matter the weather, this will make a huge difference to how customers perceive your outdoor space, so take the decorative element of your new outdoor area seriously. Good, atmospheric and warm outdoor lighting is a must, but other elements such as fabric dressing, artwork, natural decorations, installations and good outdoor planting will significantly improve your customer’s experience. It’s also worth thinking about the use of fire pits and safe alternatives to create a cosy setting.

Tailor outdoor winter dining product choice accordingly

Using local produce and suppliers to create a thoughtful, tailored approach to your menus during the winter period can definitely add to the appeal of sitting outside. Perhaps you could serve warm mulled drinks, or offer an outdoor winter BBQ element akin to the bonfire nights we all remember as a child. This is all part of creating atmosphere and appeal – outdoor winter ale and cider tasting akin to Germany’s successful Oktoberfest is increasingly becoming popular in the UK.

If you’ve got any more questions about the services Base Structures provide, and how we might be able to help you along the route of opening up your outdoor space to more customers, contact us today. Our specialist knowledge in pre-designed and bespoke canopies, as well as decorative and architectural fabrics, means we’re well-placed to advise on what’s possibly creatively in your immediate environment.

What Are Parklets? City Parklet Examples

The term ‘Parklet’ has recently begun gaining traction across the world – the term is used to address a need to redefine our urban areas at a street level, providing space for the community and recreational areas in what were once unused, underdeveloped or poorly developed urban zones. In this article, we’ll ask the question ‘what are Parklets?’, delving into more detail and providing parklet examples to help inspire your next city dressing or town regeneration project.

What Are Parklets?

Parklets are defined by the Living Streets website as ‘small parts of residential areas reclaimed by the community for people to stop, rest and enjoy.’ These could be small community parks, community gardens or areas of kerbside space, like unused car parking bays, that would otherwise be left empty and provide limited or no value to the community. Residential parklets not only transform the look and feel of a space in roadside or urban areas, they also provide a genuinely useful solution – providing seating and rest areas, herb gardens, charging ports or electric transport charging points, for example.

Addressing the need for healthy streets

The Healthy Streets Approach was developed as a framework for embedding public health in our urban environments, particularly when it comes to transport and city planning.

Parklets fit squarely into this approach, and are being developed widely across urban centres across the world. The idea is that they increase attractiveness and aesthetics, but also provide a genuinely useful solution, as explained above, whether that be on a temporary or longer term basis.

Parklet Examples

Cyclehoop Modular Parklets

Designed to fit into unused car parking bays, these areas provide bicycle parking, seating areas and an extension to a designed natural area by enabling the installation of planters. Fully modular, they can arranged and rearranged as necessary

Recharge Parklets

Again, using kerbside space to provide maximum benefit, these parkelts offer EV charging ports as well as green space to rest while the car’s being charged. They’re also designed to not take up valuable pavement space either, and again make sure of unused parking spots.

Garden Spaces for Communities

This area in Lewisham brings together a lot of aspects that underline the ethos of parklets – a community spirit, a desire to help others to create more attractive spaces, and to provide the ability for businesses to function and people to enjoy themselves whilst still social distancing. Currently London’s largest parklet, it contains a herb garden, is made from reclaimed wood and provides space for people to sit whilst using local businesses. It is also part of TFL’s London Streetspace Programme.

The Shoreditch Parklet

This Parklet by design agency Meristem Design aims to bring calm and sanctuary to this busy, bustling urban area. Offering a seating area, greenery and a well put together barrier between users and the adjacent road, it also hosts bicycle parking and offers the ability to relocate and reconstruct the planters elsewhere if needed.

Uses of canopies in parklets

At Base Structures we specialise in installing easy to erect architectural canopies for small spaces such as parklets, providing a convenient meeting point and shelter for outdoor seating and recreation. Canopies in parklets provide the perfect short or medium-term solution to weatherproofing, and allow resting spaces like the ones featured in this article to be covered and easier to use in poor weather. They are structural solutions and can be built into existing parklet designs or added at a later date. Additionally, they are affordable, and the perfect option for small community parklet builds on a tighter budget. Our canopy experts are able to advise you on both off-the-shelf and bespoke canopy designs, and their experience ensures they’re well placed to guide you through the process of establishing and maintaining a canopy to benefit your space, no matter the size.

If you’re interested in setting up a Parklet, or would like to know more, Living Street have provided this handy guide:

Additionally, if you’re looking to incorporate the idea of Parklets into your larger urban regeneration, city dressing or street placemaking project, do feel free to call or message us for a no obligation chat through your options. We’d be happy to chat and to discuss your options!

Town Square Design – Reinventing Urban Squares for the Future City

Town squares are traditionally areas of congregation and meeting. As places of trade and business, and to historically provide vital space for local markets, town squares have long held a vital role in bringing people and communities together in our urban areas.

As our consumer and buying habits changed throughout the 20th century, town squares found new roles, and their original uses were often diminished or made redundant by the high street revolution, the advent of the department store and new out of town shopping malls away from central locations. In many cases, town squares and outdoor community spaces fell into disrepair – neglected in favour of continued development elsewhere.

Today however, town square design is at the forefront of people’s minds – and developers are quickly realising the need to revitalise these historical and often neglected spaces. Alongside other city dressing and placemaking strategies, town and city squares are finding new roles, and in many cases they’re being rejuvenated to ensure they provide a useful and enjoyable municipal space to be enjoyed by everyone. Whether they provide a space to hold events, meetings, markets or other community projects, town square development is now having a measurable and discernable impact on people’s wellbeing in built-up areas across the world.

The public forecourt of the recently redeveloped Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg (below) is a good example of using clever design to make the most of these city centre locations, providing a focal point, orchestral and event space with steps built to in to create a purpose-built amphitheatre setting.

Indautxu Square in Bilbao is another great example of how a relatively large space can be redesigned thoughtfully with multi-use at the heart of its ethos. Pedestrianised, with new trees planted, a new playground created and overground car lanes and car parks moved underground, it is a striking example of what can be achieved in an urban area with the right design, architectural solutions and planting.

Repurposing and reinvention can also come out of smaller town and city square locations, such as the next example at General Gordon Square in Woolwich, London. As an old smokehole for steam trains running on the Underground in the early 1900s, it was a relatively forgotten square until it was repurposed as a park with green planting, water that is fully accessible and grass areas to hold functions and community events.


Town square design can come in lots of shapes and sizes, and use imaginative and forward-thinking approaches to make a place come alive again, whether that be through shared use, green planting or sensitive use and appreciation for historical elements or old buildings.

Canopies in town squares

One way to make the best use of unused courtyard or town square space is to install a pre-designed canopy. An architectural fabric canopy is easy to install, provides weatherproofing and shelter for a number of uses including outdoor seating, market areas and gathering points. They can also provide an attractive focal point for smaller spaces, such as our installation at Cheshire Oaks outlet which offered shoppers an easily recognisable meeting point and recreational area. Often, these solutions are easy to install, cause minimum disruption to existing operations and vastly improve the look and feel of built-up or urban spaces. Likewise, our work at Crown Square in Manchester provided an event space amongst a new development – enabling a wider use of the space and instantly transforming it into a useful area with which to develop outdoor seating at the same time as improving the aesthetics and feel of the space.

Read our blog for further ideas on how to reinvent the high street with city dressing and canopy installation.

As we redefine our use of town centres, squares and the urban environment, thoughtful planning and useful strategies to make these spaces live again are vital. If you’d like to talk through your town square design project, however small or large, do feel free to contact us to discuss your options. In the meantime, visit our City Dressing page to find out more about our work in this area and our approach to town regeneration and rejuvenation.

Inventive City Placemaking

City placemaking is the art and design of creating public spaces and is often driven by community projects. Whether that’s through decorative art installations, creating expansive natural spaces or recreational areas to house events and hospitality, there are many inventive schemes across the world dedicated to improving urban areas for a better future

Agueda, Portugal – Umbrella Sky Project

This project started as part of the well-known Ágitagueda Art Festival in Portugal. The Umbrella Sky Project seeks to provide shade for pedestrians during the hot summer months, as well as add a different level (literally!) of artistic decoration and intrigue. The umbrellas create a geometric pattern above and are not just great and colourful to look at but also provide a truly functional purpose.

Mexico – ISAD Fountain Spa

Repurposing a broken water fountain was the idea behind this community project to make better use of an underused municipal space. Led by students from the Institute of Architecture and Design Chihuahua in Mexico, scaffolding, fabric and wooden boards have been used to create resting spaces around the water feature – allowing temporary communal space for people to meet, relax and bathe in the water.

Read more:

Pittsburgh, USA – City of Asylum

The City of Asylum is proof that good city placemaking can have a truly worldwide outlook and a genuine social benefit. This scheme was founded in Pittsburgh, USA, to turn empty, forgotten city spaces into homes for writers who for whatever reason have been exiled from their home countries. The result is a stunning display of multi-national community – the space provides free rent and helps support inhabitants with employment, publishing and creative teaching opportunities.

San Francisco, USA – Proxy

Another good example of what community ambition and thoughtful placemaking can achieve in abandoned and disused areas, Proxy is a series of temporary pop up spaces in San Francisco built in the empty space left by a building demolition and a failed housing scheme. Architects Envelope A+D set about creating a public environment to be enjoyed by all, and plans are now in place to expand this to include an outdoor cinema and further retail and hospitality vendors.

Janet Echelman Aerial Sculpture – Boston Greenway

City Placemaking projects can work for social good and to bring people together, but they can also wow, impress and inspire depending on the mediums, materials and structures used. This example suspended 600 feet in the air sits where an elevated highway once used to divide the city from its waterfront. This part of the city has now been reclaimed for pedestrianised public use, the sculpture sitting above a park that provides the perfect vantage point to view the artwork.

For more information, visit creative placemaking on Pinterest, or to discuss your project and the expertise Base Structures can bring to realise your vision, contact us for an informal discussion.

Base Structures and City Dressing collaborate on vision for the future of public spaces

We are really excited to announce a collaboration and to introduce a new range of outdoor solutions for socialising this summer in our towns, high streets and community spaces.

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and so we can all can enjoy the British summertime with our friends and family, Base Structures and City Dressing are teaming up and introducing a range of outdoor and place-making solutions for pop-up venues, municipal spaces, green areas and civic and community socialising areas.

Not only do we hope to continue to socialise and provide entertainment spaces throughout the summer but we also want to start the conversation about how best to design and maintain these environments for the future of our urban spaces.

To introduce this venture, Base Structures and City Dressing have produced a short video, which can be viewed below:

“We are excited about this new project” says Kevin Hemmings, Architect at Base Structures.

“It’s clear we need to provide more options for the public, inviting people to use outdoor spaces in new and innovative ways which may include retractable roofs, canopies and bespoke temporary structures to provide protection to seating and community areas”

Jeremy Rucker, Managing Director at City Dressing, said:

“We need more flexible areas in our outdoor spaces that more people can use in an enjoyable and experience-led way. We provide screens, seating, pop-up areas and props to provide smart green spaces in urban areas. This is an area of growth and we are looking forward to working closely with Base Structures to give clients the best possible service.”

For more information about this collaboration, contact or give Base Structures a call on 01179 115250. 

Safe Outdoor Venues: Getting Your Event Approved This Summer

It feels like a long time since we were all gathered together without restrictions in place, but with lockdown tentatively easing for what we all hope is the final time, attention is beginning to turn to how we re-calibrate our entertainment industries for a new world and a new way of doing things.

Summer is fast approaching, and many event organisers pondering their options for outdoor venues that will meet guidelines for safe socialising. Many festivals, for example, have committed to opening this summer, but in doing so, and to allow outdoor events such as festivals, concerts, sporting events and local community events to go ahead, a new way of doing things and new collaborative approaches will have to be determined.

Developing outdoor venues in the wake of the pandemic is vital, and the government has pledged renewed focus in terms of insurance and funding operations. We are all needing to re-think our operations and the festival, hospitality and events sector is truly vital to this.

One option for event organisers are fabric structures. These are quick to install, and light weight, so ideal for temporary structures such as performance stages, dining areas or pop-up venues. Our range of canopies can provide ambient outdoor space that provides shade and shelter as well as allowing crowds to spread out and socialise to enjoy entertainment in safe manner. They are designed to fit in aesthetically with outdoor environments, allowing event organisers to design creative spaces with lighting and props to create compelling and memorable effects.

Andy Traynor, Director at Base Structures, says,

“We are seeing the development of these kinds of structures across the whole country. They are low-input to set up and quick to be on-line and ready for action.

That’s incredibly important at the moment to get turnover as a business and be operational quickly whilst providing adequate space for distancing.”

As well as being quick to install, the attraction of the semi-permanent canopies we provide to cover walkways and seating areas is that they are structural in nature and rated to comply with relevant building and engineering codes. Innovative solutions have been developed over the years to ensure that structural stability and integrity is maintained, even in high wind and snow loads.

In addition to covering entertainment spaces these demountable, easy to set up canopies will also be used for queue canopies which are still proving necessary and popular. Most event organisers are finding ways to reduce the need for queuing, but where queuing does occur, they do need to consider how it can be done safely. Base Structures offer demountable-up canopies which can act as covered entrances and walkways in the event of new or additional queue systems needing to be developed.

Get in Touch

If you’re looking to add temporary space to your business, and could benefit from a demountable canopy for advice about our bespoke solutions, contact us today.

T:+44 (0) 1179 115250
Base Structures UK Ltd
Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
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