Social distancing: fabric structures and canopies for adapting to a new world

In recent months, we’ve all faced unique situations which have forced us all to adapt quickly. Inevitably, this has had consequences on our communities and local businesses. We know, for instance, that all organisations around the world are having to re-think many aspects of social interaction, utilising outdoor space to a far greater degree and adapting existing systems to cater for what most of us now recognise as the ‘new normal.’

Whether we like the phrase or not, we now all recognise the need to act quickly and responsibly to get our society up and running in a way that would have seemed incomprehensible just six months ago. It’s a fast-moving situation, and we acknowledge the part we can play in working out how to create suitable environments so businesses can return to profitability in a short amount of time.

Our range of canopies can assist with space creation and help optimise outdoor environments to retain social distancing and safe spacing between customers.

Entrances, Queuing and Walkways

Many premises such as retail parks, zoos, sports venues, theme parks, offices and industrial units are having to consider options for distancing as people queue to enter the building, park, buy tickets or use various facilities. For many of these environments, social distancing has reduced the amount of people allowed in any one space, and we recognise that products such as queuing canopies and covered walkways need to fit into existing spaces, look good and feel part of the businesses. Base Structures are well placed to help you get going with this.

A fabric canopy, for example, can provide weather-proofing for those queueing and waiting to enter your business, and provide space to enable them to adequately distance whilst doing so.

This could be a temporary, relocatable canopy option, designed with their own ballast so no foundations would be required. This gives greater flexibility for short term solutions and canopies for social distancing could be turned quickly – in as little as 4 weeks.

Outdoor dining for restaurants, pubs and communal spaces

Many premises require new options for outdoor eating and drinking, and Base Structures recognise that it’s not just restaurants, bars and cafés. All establishments with need for communal canteen space, such as work places, office break-out spaces, leisure facilities and recreational attractions will need to rethink table spacing and social interaction, even if that’s outside.

We have a range of products perfectly suited for garden and terrace use. These allow businesses to create more space outdoors, and provide that crucial flexibility to allow for distancing – spreading-out tables and enabling large areas to be fully covered and sheltered from the elements.

Education Canopies and Learning Spaces

We are all aware of the importance of getting our young people back into learning environments, and we understand that many people are working around to clock to devise intelligent solutions to allow the return of pupils and students safely and effectively. We’ve worked for many schools around the country providing fabric shelters for their outdoor spaces, and these areas have now become very valuable as establishments look to provide temporary solutions to enable the use of play areas and maximise learning activities outdoors. These canopies allow greater social distancing whilst providing the ability to be able to continue to offer operational playing spaces, or even enable classroom extensions to be able to teach outside.

Transport Shelter Canopies

We now have the potential for lasting positive change to sustainability and the reduction in toll our infrastructure takes on the environment. Naturally, many people are reconsidering their transport methods, and cycling and use of electric vehicles are both on the increase and set to be firmly established in our way of operating.

Bike park canopies and pavilions can allow for increased bike storage for all manner of public spaces, leisure facilities, offices or schools. Car park canopies are also a great way to provide more space for those using electric vehicles where charging stations are installed

If this blog post has got you thinking about the potentials to use outdoor space to reopen your business, contact us to discuss a fabric structure with our team. If you have a question about the ways to expand your outdoor space, we can also help, and would happily provide our expertise on a range of pre-designed canopies that are both budget friendly and flexible.

We recognise that the world is changing quickly, and the solution you need now might not be the one you need in a few months’ time. This is why our pre-designed canopies could be so useful – their inherent flexibility allows you to re-use and reconfigure them at any point.

How the Right Mesh Enclosures Can Improve Animal Welfare at the Zoo

For our clients who run and manage zoos, animal welfare is their top priority. Most zoos exist as an opportunity not just for the public to see animals up close, but to preserve their habitat in the most natural way possible as well as working to preserve and increase their numbers. In the case of our work with London Zoo’s Sumatran Tiger enclosure, it is often to create a home and a natural space for some of the world’s most endangered animals.

In this blog post, we’re going to look at three ways choosing a mesh structure can improve the lives of animals in a zoo.

It’s not a ‘cage’

Mesh structures are by their very definition flexible, pliable and see-through. They don’t ‘cage’ the animals in and often exist to create the most open environment possible for the animals. They create an almost invisible barrier between the animal and the visitor and allow people to get up-close to areas that would be otherwise inaccessible. It’s better for the animal, and far better for people who come to see them!

They create an open feel without compromising safety

Our experience helping to create enclosures in zoos across the country has given us good access and knowledge of some of the world’s most feared animals. Understandably, safety is a primary concern when making a home for the animals, and mesh structures are high-quality, especially strong, stainless steel mesh. Of course, any concept for a mesh structure needs to be thoroughly designed and rigorously tested. We sort that in-house, so you can be confident leaving that bit to us.

They’re cost effective, allowing zoos the ability to spend on creating happy, sustainable environments

It’ll come as no shock to hear that keeping animals is an expensive business. Care and maintenance of their environment is an important factor and a major cost to keep track of. Mesh structures can be designed and built to a variety of budgets and timescales, so it’s a cost-effective way to secure the enclosure before making the environment inside as enjoyable as possible for the animals. There’s an added benefit for the visitor too – as mesh structures are see-through the time spent on making enclosures attractive can also be enjoyed by the zoo’s customers outside it!

It’s important that expert advice is sought before attempting any mesh installation for animals. We’ve years of experience , so contact us or click here for more information about mesh enclosures for zoos.

2nd September 2019

Experience Led Spaces for a Changing era of Retail

We are excited to announce a new city dressing service designing, creating and installing stunning displays in town centres and retail areas around the country.

Looking for innovation

With long-established town centre models being eroded by changing retail habits in the UK and beyond, there comes a need for municipal spaces to innovate and attract a new kind of audience. We recognise the need to accompany retail spaces with an array of breathtaking experiences; whether that be in the form of art installations, lighting displays, suspended exhibition pieces or a canopy for a new dining area, leisure area or playground.

A positive change

The emergence of ‘experience-led’ shopping has created a growing demand for these services. Andy Traynor, Director of Installations said:

“We are seeing a growing demand in city centres, where our experience working at height and on creative jobs helps bring new light and colour to otherwise tired spaces in need of rejuvenation.

We enjoy thinking laterally and challenging ourselves to come up with bigger, brighter and more impressive installations to really wow visitors to their still cherished communal town spaces.”

Theatre and emotion

We recognise that to engage customers and draw them away from the appeal of online shopping, emotion has to play a part in city dressing and retail experiences. Base Structures work hard to entertain, impress and wow visitors with their displays and leisure spaces.

With many years experience, we traditionally design, supply and install tensile fabric canopies, often used to create stylish entrances or to provide shade and shelter over walkways, courtyards or play areas. 

For information and to discover previous Base Structures city dressing projects visit

or contact us: 0117 911 5250

28th June 2019

The benefits of adding waterproof temporary screens to your next building project

Construction projects can be complex affairs, with many different teams converging on small, often tight spaces to carry out the necessary work in time. Alongside labour-force, these teams also have many different types of equipment on location, some of which are dangerous and need experts to operate and maintain.

Quite often, it makes sense to separate this work environment from the ‘outside world,’ especially in busy town or city locations where the infrastructure of everyday life has to continue working normally.

In this blog post, we will talk through a few benefits of adding temporary screening to a larger scale construction project.

It’s weatherproof

Our fabrics screens are engineered to withstand wind loads and are extremely weatherproof, allowing you to progress work even in the worst of conditions and start internal fit outs ahead of time, and not be held back waiting for glazing or cladding contractors. This has benefits obviously for the speed of the project enabling you to keep to programme and deliver projects on time.

It is fire rated

It’s also important to ensure that temporary screens are safe and comply with all necessary ratings. We can install PVC Coated Polyester temporary screens which have the equivalent to Class 0 fire rated and conform to EN 13501-1.

It keeps the public separate

There are many things to keep track of when a building project is underway, and adding temporary screening gives you the peace of mind that the public are separated from the works and creates ‘no-go zones’.

It reduces risk

Fabric screens are fixed direct to the building structures and don’t require any scaffolding. This means no scaffold is being carried through the completed works and reduces the amount of manual handling. Also time saved on the programme reduces the number of man hours on site and therefore risk.

It keeps things underwraps

Sometimes it’s inevitable when you’re carrying out a large construction or renovation project that you don’t want people seeing the fruits of your labour until it’s properly ready. Temporary screening is especially good if your client is going for a ‘big unveil’ at the end of the project and because it’s so quick to put up and take down, it doesn’t add a huge amount to your team’s workload.

Allows for project adaptability

The nature of most building projects mean that they can change quickly. Weatherproof temporary screens work well because they can be reconfigured at almost any time during the build process. They can be taken down and put up elsewhere easily and can be changed as any building work develops.

It’s affordable and cost saving

With cost at the forefront of your mind, temporary screening can provide separation, weatherproofing and security at a surprisingly affordable price compared to more expensive traditional weatherproofing methods such as sheeted scaffolding. It can even save money through the time saving opportunities it presents.

It’s an inexpensive, flexible and reliable solution that adds value to a construction site.

To find out more about the flexible protection temporary building screening provides, contact us for a friendly initial chat to see how we may be able to help.

5th February 2020

How we achieve zero fabric waste on projects

One of our key environmental objectives is zero waste to landfill. When working on the early stages of a fabric structure, this is a key objective for the structures that requires a number of considerations from the outset to achieve. We ensure the fabric lifespan is as long as it can be, this includes ensuring we use high quality fabric, an expert selection of connection details to achieve the lifespan, making sure we keep the fabric well maintained and giving advice on long-term care of the product. In this blog post, we’ll look at the details of each of those aspects that help us achieve zero landfill waste.

Choosing the right fabrics & connection details

Part of the process is choosing a fabric that is going to have a lifespan most suited to its purpose, and one that can be easily recovered and renovated at the end of its use. We can help advise on the right material to use for a variety of different situations, meaning not only will that fabric have a longer lifespan but it’ll also do its job efficiently and effectively. The quality of tensile fabrics are improving all the time and many are created using far more sustainable methods which means their overall effect on the environment is lower.

Specification of the connection details is of paramount importance when aiming to maximise the lifespan of the structures. It requires expert knowledge of the properties of the fabric and movement inherent within the design to understand the bespoke requirements for each structure. Our team are able to ensure that the right components are sourced that provide the structure with its best chance of achieving the design life.

avoiding fabriv landfill

Installation processes

If we want structures to have a ‘second life’ after their current use is over, we need to be able access them easily and ensure there are simple yet safe solutions in place for their installation, removal, renovation and subsequent relocation.

Therefore future plans for the structure are considered during the installation planning phase to ensure the most practical access is available and that the fabric can be removed safely and in a re-useable form.

fabric installation

Good maintenance

This, possibly more than anything, helps extend the lifespan of our fabrics and does a lot to ensure they don’t get sent to landfill unnecessarily. For a relatively low annual cost, fabric canopies and structures can be kept in great shape – looking the part and importantly not being allowed to degrade beyond saving. Good maintenance of fabrics ensures they stay weather-resistant, secure, safe and attractive.

Reusing & Upcycling of Fabrics

If a fabric canopy has gone beyond being useful in a certain situation, we’ll look to remove it, renovate it and clean it, and use it elsewhere. There are a number of ways we do this find solutions ranging from working with local events, community centres and projects, charities and even our own employees, from using PVC to keep homeless people warm to lining employees shed roofs to protect against the wet winter weather getting in. We WILL find a solution for it, clean it, renovate it or upcycle it, and use it elsewhere

glastonbury benches

For more information on fabric re-use and examples of where we have done this, see our blog; how we re-use our fabric structures.

It is important to get solid advice and guidance before installing a fabric structure, as the wrong type of fabric or installation could mean unsalvageable damage beyond the point of repair – which is of course not only bad for the environment but a waste of money meaning delays to the project and avoidable additional costs.

If you’d like to book a consultation with one of our tensile fabric experts, contact us to see how we can help.

2nd March 2020

Upcycling fabric structures: how we reuse our fabric structures

When we put fabric structures up, we do all we can to ensure their lifespan is as long as it can be. The key to this is planning and good maintenance, part of the design process is choosing a fabric that is going to give the best lifespan for the structure, as well as utilising our expertise to ensure the right connection details are specified to achieve that lifespan and ensuring the fabric can be easily recovered and renovated. In this blog post, we’ll look at the concept of fabric upcycling and re-use within our industry and examples of how we have given fabric new leases of life.

Structural fabric takes a long time to deteriorate but when it does it can start to look blotchy as the light comes through. This may mean it is no longer fit for the original purpose, but it still has plenty of life in it and can be used in plenty of other ways, it certainly does go to waste! We strive for zero fabric waste on all our projects, where fabric structures do eventually reach their end of design life and need to be replaced or dismantled, we make sure we do all we can to re-use the old fabric in the best possible way to benefit our local community.

There are a number of ways we do this find solutions ranging from working with local events, community centres and projects, charities and even our own employees, from using PVC to keep homeless people warm to lining employees shed roofs to protect against the wet winter weather getting in. We also use our contacts in the area who have a wide variety of uses for it, ensuring it doesn’t get sent immediately to landfill. We WILL find a solution for it, clean it, renovate it or upcycle it, and use it elsewhere

Below are some examples where we’ve successfully recommissioned and reused fabrics in different setting and situations.

Community Projects

We have worked with our local community centre Knowle West Media Centre on their affordable housing project. We donated mesh fabric off cuts and assisted them install it as fencing for their showcase prototype home, installed on a micro-site in Knowle West. See image below.

Festivals / Glastonbury Festival

We’ve had a long relationship with our local festival circuit, Glastonbury in particular, and many other festivals across the country. We’ve created a very large number of Glastonbury deck chairs out of old fabric, and wrapped numerous old railway sleepers in leftover PVC to make them into benches so they survive all weathers over the festival weekend.

Local Charities

We’ve donated leftover PVC fabric to a local homeless charities to use as ground sheets to keep the cold out, or for people to sleep on, to keep the cold from coming through the ground. PVC is effective for this because it is extremely layered and weatherproof.

We have other good relationships with some local charities, and the fabric for this tardis phone box was created using leftover blue PVC fabric from Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium ‘Sky Bridge’ cladding. It was donated to The Harvey Hext’s Trust for use on their fundraising Scarecrow Trail 2019 and can be stored and re-used for their future campaigning events.

Private Events

Even if we can’t find a use for old or waste pieces of fabric, within our industry and network we know people who can make use of it. We’ve been commissioned to build structures using leftover fabric for a number of local events on people’s land and private gardens. For example in 2019 our industry famous Exchange Square summer events canopy was finally dismantled for the last time in over 20 years of us installing it every year and storing it for them until the next event. This canopy had no more value to the client and they were not interested in keeping it, but it still has lots of life left. We donated it to a local farm in Somerset for their events – helping to provide and give back to the local community!

The pictures below showcases another example of some private events using some old fabric to provide a terrace canopy for a private party and to cover our makeshift pub – The Hairy Arms!

2nd April 2020

some of our clients