In the last few decades Australia has seen an increase in developing outdoor areas in homes, bars and restaurants. More and more designers of commercial and domestic properties consider the outdoor area as an extension of how the space is utilised, with an emphasis on the flow from indoors to out. The focus shifting from shutting out the elements to including them in the way we experience our spaces beyond our internal walls. Outdoor kitchens, furniture, heating and lighting are being included in the scope of works for new builds and renovations alike.

What is important is that these outdoor areas incorporate a system to provide shade and in some cases protection from high winds and rain so that the area can be utilised throughout all seasons.

There are many sun, shade, wind and rain systems available to ensure the outdoor area is protected to some degree from the elements. This is why it’s important to think through the external space and how it is to be used before designing it so that the use of the area will be optimised.

Here are some things to consider when designing or refurbishing an outdoor space, whether it is for a home or commercial area:

1.How is the outdoor area to be used?

  • Is it to entertain guests or for customers to dine outside? Many clients plan their outdoor area for a “big event” like a party or wedding. We need to consider the everyday use of the space rather than just one event per year.
  • Is it to be useable in wet or windy weather or needed just for sun protection?
  • If the outdoor area is to be used in the cooler months, would it require outdoor heating?
  • Does the entire area need to be weather proof? Or is it sufficient to cover a portion of it and keep the rest of the area open to allow for a fire pit, a backyard game of cricket or for a veggie patch.

2. What external factors are affecting the way the outdoor area is used?

  • Is it too hot in summer or does it need to allow the winter sun in?
  • Does the property require shade without losing the view or do you want to block out an unattractive streetscape or traffic noise?
  • Is there poorly utilised space or are there items restricting thorough-fair and flow of an area?

3. What structures need to be put into place to allow for weather protection systems?

  • Pergolas are often included in an outdoor area, but without sufficient sun protection, their function can be minimal. If a pergola is to be built, consider erecting it with a pitch to allow a retractable roof to be added and for it to drain sufficiently. If unsure of the required pitch, contact Aalta, who can help you determine the pitch according to the span required.
  • If a retractable awning is to be incorporated, consider the strength of the building that will be supporting the awning, where the mounting positions need to be to support the structure and what loads the structure will be subject to with winds and rain – is the building adequately prepared to handle these loads?
  • If an outdoor area faces west, consider straight drop screens to block out the sun. Mesh fabrics block up to 90% of the sun’s rays and allow for a view to be maintained.
  • If an awning or blind is to be motorised, where will the electrical connections be placed so that there are no unsightly conduits travelling across the building?

Aalta Australia has been working with architects, builders, engineers and directly with customers to design, supply and install weather protection systems for over 30 years. Aalta’s strength lies in supplying custom products to suit the client’s specific brief, so that they can achieve the best outcome in their outdoor space.

For more information on sun, rain and wind protection systems and how to incorporate them into your next outdoor design project, contact Aalta: visit; email [email protected]