Here at All Urban, we specialise in supplying superior quality landscaping products and exclusively supply Handspring Design’s public realm youth shelters. Together, we share best practice and answer some vital questions to consider when specifying and installing high-quality youth shelters.
How do I make sure that a youth shelter is safe and secure for public use ?
Public safety and security is high priority when creating the design. A structure which has clear sight lines ensures that passers-by can see who is inside the shelter and users can also see passers-by. The Handspring Design Hoops which have recently been installed at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew are a good example of this, as coloured Perspex is used to create translucent walls.
How do I make sure that a youth shelter is made from sustainable materials?
When looking for sustainable and exceptionally durable materials, Handspring Design uses Oak and Douglas Fir (or European Larch) because they can be UK sourced from sustainable sawmills. FSC timber oak is used sparingly but improves with durability over time. When possible, Douglas Fir is used for larger projects. Both of these timbers turn silver with long-term exposure to UV.
How do I protect public youth shelters from long-term weathering?
One of the biggest considerations for outdoor shelters is long-term weathering. Designing a shelter with lots of flat, horizontal surfaces, will encourage rain water to sit in the fixings and on the surfaces, encouraging the wood to rot. Therefore creating a design with carefully thought out details which include slopes, angles and gaps ensures that the rain water runs off and does not pool on the shelter.
When a piece of wood is cut perpendicular to the grain, exposing the rings, it is called endgrain. It is important to ensure that these too are not incorporated into the design horizontally, as this is where the weather will get in and likely rot the timber when exposed to long-term weathering.
Creating an open-plan design provides temporary weather protection, rather than fully water-proofing which can create enclosed spaces which reduce public safety. The Handspring Design ‘Birds Nest’ shelter, smaller cousin of its larger Crow’s Nest viewpoint sculpture, is the perfect example of public safety and weather-proof design.