Engineering canopies that are fit for purpose

Research suggests that many leading canopy manufacturers apply little engineering acumen to the design, build and installation of their canopies, which can result in maintenance and performance difficulties, additional remedial costs and poor aesthetics – all much sooner than anticipated.

As a leading manufacturer and supplier of bespoke canopies, Canopies UK is championing canopies that are engineered for purpose.

With canopy suppliers aplenty offering fast installation on seemingly cost-effective ‘off the shelf’ product solutions, specifying a walkway, entrance cover, or semi-permanent building extension can be quick and easy.

However, there are very few canopy manufacturers that engineer their products on a site-by-site basis, which means the product many architects and designers choose most likely hasn’t been designed, manufactured or installed for the building it will be attached to, or the ground it will sit in.

Site-specific calculations
To engineer a canopy for a specific project, your chosen manufacturing partner should conduct a comprehensive site survey consisting of a number of site-specific calculations. These measurements will determine how your canopy should be both manufactured and installed in order to optimise performance, longevity and visual appearance.

Site-specific calculations take into consideration factors such as wind speed and snowfall, pre-existing trees and roots, drains, sewage and terrain type. If the canopy is to be attached to a building, other factors include the age, strength, height and construction of the wall in question.

Battling the elements – wind speed and snowfall
There are a myriad of variables at play when calculating wind speed and snowfall. In addition to basic wind speed and snowfall measurements, local topography, town terrain, site layout and altitude all need to be calculated when designing a canopy that will withstand the natural elements.

Problems underfoot
The footings of a typical canopy structure sit around 800mm deep, but could go down as far as one metre if the shelter requires additional support due to high winds or other factors.

There are a number of below ground variables that can impact how a canopy should be erected in order for it to perform at its best throughout its warranty period and beyond, such as:

Ground type
Whilst many urban areas benefit from good solid ground with a healthy clay content, historic landfill sites for example don’t offer the same construction-perfect ground. Furthermore, rural ground can be loose and not conducive to standard footings, which is where alternative foundation structures such as pile and beam systems come into play.

Below ground obstructions
Drainage systems, pipes, cables and tree roots are just some of the obstacles site-specific calculations will identify. By positioning the vertical posts of the canopy in accordance with any pre-existing obstructions and using steel to reinforce the structure where necessary, it is possible to avoid expensive utility re-routing works.

Off the wall
For cantilevered, wall hung canopies, site-specific calculations will determine whether the wall is strong enough to take the weight of the shelter. With specific tests designed to mimic the weight of a canopy, a trained surveyor can ascertain whether additional foundation supports will be required in order to safeguard the canopy, the building and its users.

Canopies that are engineered for purpose often have longer and more comprehensive guarantees, like the ten-year warranty offered on many canopies from Canopies UK. Specifying bespoke built shelters needn’t cause unnecessary work for architects and designers if the right manufacturing partner is used.

To find out more about how Canopies UK can assist you, or to discuss a specific project with us, visit www.canopiesuk.co.uk or call 01254 777 002.